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Type: Thesis
Title: The utilitarian imagination: an inquiry into the relationship between character formation, moral freedom and social reform in John Stuart Mill’s Moral Science.
Author: Goldstone, Alan
Issue Date: 2010
School/Discipline: School of History and Politics
Abstract: This thesis examines John Stuart Mill‘s conception of moral character and his views on the possibility and importance of moral self-development. The purpose and substance of Mill‘s project were conceived and developed within a dense intellectual nexus of romantic, liberal, utilitarian, naturalist and Kantian insights. These must be disentangled if we are to comprehend his paradigm of moral character. Mill‘s attempts to incorporate these ideas into a systematic Moral Science—including psychology, ethics and sociology—required a trenchant critique of certain types of social and political reform. The evolution of Mill‘s critique is contextualised by an analysis of his engagement with four thinkers he came to consider inimical to his moral and political goals: Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, Robert Owen and Auguste Comte. This thesis offers detailed analyses of Mill‘s critique of religion and his doctrine of international non-intervention, two themes that remain controversial and misunderstood in scholarly literature. An examination of these themes illuminates Mill‘s thinking in two important ways. First, it demonstrates that Mill‘s ideas of freedom and character formation utilise moralised ideas about the importance of moral and emotional development to political philosophy. Second, it reveals that although he defined freedom in explicitly moralised terms, Mill‘s final position is that it is not permissible to force people to live in the conditions that maximise moral freedom and are most conducive to the development of moral character.
Advisor: Corcoran, Paul Edward
Hill, Lisa Ellen
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of History and Politics, 2010
Keywords: J.S. Mill; liberalism; utilitarianism; reformism; Robert Owen; Auguste Comte; moral psychology; character development
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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