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for a common interest in the sense in which the terms would apply to the laws of a single nation.
Its binding force is due to the fact that men are powerfully influenced by the praise and blame of other men ; indeed in private morality this is the chief motive to good conduct. Mill considers that this regard to the opinion of others can only tell upon a democratic government, for a monarch or an aristocracy does not need to care what others think about it. But “what others think” really enters far more into the motives of rulers than is here admitted. John Stuart Mill saw his father's mistake, and recognised that the character and actions of all rulers, without exception, are influenced by the habitual sentiments and feelings, the general mode of thinking and acting, which prevail through the community of which they are members," as well as by those of their own particular class. “And no one will understand or be able to decipher their system of conduct who does not take all these things into account. Besides private interest, sensus communis must be taken into account; and it may be in certain circumstances as powerful in producing the desired
“responsibility to the governed.” But Bentham and his disciples were backward in allowing for peculiarities of national character; their scheme of government was in an unfavourable sense "abstract." It must be added that any theory must be inadequate which derives the origin of government from purely economical causes. History and the facts of present society are alike inconsistent with such a theory; and it is no necessary postulate of political economy that the State should have come into being from purely economical causes. The same applies to the theory of Property. James Mill's utterances on the subject could bear an interpretation which would justify for example the dispossession of all capitalists and landlords. In another connection he speaks of the rich being almost of necessity prone to vices from which the poor are kept free by their poverty. But in his Elements of Political Economy he is nearer laissez-faire than socialism. He thinks the existence of a comfortable middle class is for the public advantage (p. 49). He does not try to press home his own suggestion that the rent of land is a good fund for the exigencies of the State (198, 199, cf. 50). Such hints, however, brought forth fruit in John Mill.
effect as any
1 Cf. the passage to the same effect, quoted by Macaulay, from the article on Jurisprudence. Edinburgh Review, March, 1829, p. 167.
? Logic, vol. ii., p. 484.
3 James Mill rejects this designation (see Fragment on Mackintosh, 1835, pp. 123, 124). He admits a close general agreement in opinion.
Macaulay rightly reminds us that protection of person is as truly a raison d'être of Government as protection of property. Edinburgh Review, March, 1829, p. 163.
In one particular, James Mill and Bentham seem nearer to Socialism than to laissez-faire, Government by the majority is their great concern; the minority and single individuals are to be subject to the majority so absolutely that originality and innovation run the risk of being crushed under a “despotism of public opinion.” ? But in this Bentham's political philosophy was again showing its affinity to the political economy of the older economists. Under the “system of natural liberty” the
great body of the public "benefit ; but the minority and single individuals suffer keenly.: As in Benthamism, there is the temptation to argue that a greater pleasure in the many counterbalances a greater pain in the few. The main apology offered for this suffering is that “in the long run” the minority will share the benefit; and yet this final settlement has no sooner come for one class than the causes of suffering are set at work for another.
It was nevertheless perhaps the chief service of Bentham's school to have laid emphasis on the claims of the Greatest Number as against the aggrandisement of the few. Their principle (however we may criticise it in details) had a broad general tendency to secure the recognition of equality of rights. Every one is to count as one, no one for more than one. The question be
1 Article on Government, p. 31 (of reprint), etc. Cf. J. S. Mill, Autob., p. 71.
J. S. Mill, Diss. and Disc., I. 378 (“ Bentham ”), written 1838. 3 E.g. on the introduction of machinery or a change of fashion, or under the application of a rigid poor law.
4 A phrase attributed to Bentham. I can trace it no further than to J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism, p. 93. He calls it “Bentham's Dictum,” but gives no reference. The doctrine at least is undoubtedly Bentham's.
queathed by the eighteenth century was, how far can human institutions be said to do justice to human nature ? How far are they an evil, how far a good ? Bentham was dealing rather with this question than with the problems of ethics; and his test, of the Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number, was applied ruthlessly to English institutions, especially English laws. The democratic opinions learned from Bentham and from James Mill (in his Essay on Government) helped to make the moderate reform of 1832 possible. Negatively Bentham did much to discredit the notion of natural rights as used by the philosophical precursors of the French Revolution ; and if he substituted an abstraction of his own it was at least one that could be turned to practical service by his own countrymen. Indeed, it might be contended that Bentham was only opposed to the letter and not to the spirit of the doctrine of Natural Rights. “Every one to count as one, no one as more than one,” does not get from him more than a dogmatic justification ; and the notion that every one has a “natural right” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is fully in keeping with the dogma of Greatest Happiness, whether as ex. pounded by him or by James Mill. The idea of natural and non-natural is rather redefined than discarded ; and we read in John Mill? of what is "naturally pleasurable” and “naturally painful,” as we might have read it in Adam Smith himself, and simply as opposed to fictitious, artificial, or derivative.
NOTE ON CARLYLE.
"That is one definite objection of Carlyle's; political economists in his day confine their attention to the production and exchange of wealth, and say too little about the distribution of it. This was largely true. But he goes on :- Political Philosophy? Political Philosophy should be a scientific revelation of the whole secret mechanism whereby men cohere together in society: should tell us what is meant by “country (patria), by what causes men are happy, moral, religious, or the contrary. Instead of all which it tells us how “flannel jackets” are exchanged for “pork hams," and speaks much about “the land last taken into cultivation.” They are the hodmen of the intellectual edifice, who have got upon the wall and will insist on building as if they were masons. This is in reality a second objection : political economy in his opinion claimed to be a political philosophy, and had no right to do anything of the kind. This was really because there was no political philosophy except the Utilitarian before the English public at that time, and the economists were usually Utilitarians. How far such charges could be maintained even against the Utilitarians I will not say; but, when Carlyle foresaw that the Utilitarians were soon to 'pass away
1 Princ. of Legisl., ch. xiii., Anarch. Fallacies (passim). 2 Diss. and Disc., I. 137 (“Sedgwick"), written 1835.
with a great noise' (Life, vol. ii., p. 79), he might have allowed that after that event political economy would have something to say for itself, when it had ceased to be associated with Utilitarianism. It would not miss its associate. To many of us it seems a positive hindrance to the fair fame of political economy now, that its professors still talk of a 'calculus of pleasures and pains,' as if that were the foundation on which all economical theory must rest. If the economist is no longer supposed to assume that all men act only from self-interest in the narrowest sense, why should he be supposed to measure only 'pleasures' and pains' Human interests (as Carlyle quite rightly protested) are not rightly or fully described in terms of pleasure and pain (unless these words are so twisted as to mean what does not belong to them in ordinary speech at all). The economist measures the effects of certain motives and certain conduct in relation to a particular subject-namely, the material good things of this life, and without any necessary concern with the motives and conduct themselves as a subject of psychology.
“Men have wants and satisfy them by material means; the outward acts and the intentions and aims they indicate are of economical concern. The relation of the motives to the acts, and the relation of human reason to human action, are, no doubt, of the highest concern to the moral philosopher, but not to the economist as an economist. He may have opinions about them because he may be philosophically minded and study them; or, without any detriment to his economics, he may not be inclined to go beyond them as they stand, in which case he should not adopt the language and conclusions of a particular philosophical theory. Yet this was what Malthus, Ricardo, James Mill, and Jevons did in their time; I fear the like has been done in our own time. The result is to prejudice people who are not Utilitarians against a study which they naturally think must be bound up with the particular psychology and ethics of Utilitarianism. Something like this may have happened in the case of Carlyle.”—From a paper on the Relations of Carlyle to Political Economy, oth December, 1890 (Glasgow Philosophical Society).
JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873). * With those who (like all the best and wisest of mankind) are dissatisfied with human life as it is, and whose feelings are wholly identified with its radical amendment, there are two main regions of thought. One is the region of ultimate aims, the constituent elements of the highest realizable ideal of human life. The other is that of the immediately useful and practically attainable. It is in these two extremes principally that real certainty lies. My own strength lay wholly in the uncertain and slippery intermediate region—that of theory, or moral and political science-whether as political economy, analytic psychology, logic, philosophy of history” (Autobiography, p. 189).
This is John Mill's judgment on himself; it is frank and accurate. Born in 1806, he had been trained by his father from earliest boyhood to weigh arguments and evidence. “ The education which my father gave me was in itself much more fitted for training me to know than to do” (Autob., p. 37). . But we cannot wish this fault undone, the issue of it being so proper. The boy grew up in the habit of thinking for himself, and by following his father's rules arrived in manhood at conclusions very different from his father's (Autob., p. 179). At first it was not so. From about 1821 to 1826 he was devoted heart and soul to Bentham's principles; his aim in life was to be a reformer (Autob., p. 132); his philosophy was Bentham's Utilitarianism in conjunction with Ricardo's Political Economy, Malthus's doctrine of Population, and James Mill's Psychology (ib., 64 seq., pp. 105, 108, etc.) “No youth of the age I then was can be expected (he' himself says) to be more than one thing," and the thing he then most desired to be was an eighteenth century philosophe (ib., p. 109). After his great mental