Mill pp 179-189 | Cite as

The Interpretation of the Moral Philosophy of J. S. Mill

  • J. O. Urmson
Part of the Modern Studies in Philosophy book series


It is a matter which should he of great interest to those who study the psychology of philosophers that the theories of some great philosophers of the past are studied with the most patient and accurate scholarship, while those of others are so burlesqued and travestied by critics and commentators that it is hard to believe that their works are ever seriously read with a sympathetic interest, or even that they are read at all. Amongst those who suffer most in this way John Stuart Mill is an outstanding example. With the exception of a short book by Reginald Jackson,1 there is no remotely accurate account of his views on deductive logic, so that, for example, the absurd view that the syllogism involves petitio principii is almost invariably fathered on him; and, as Von Wright says, ‘A good systematic and critical monograph on Mill’s Logic of Induction still remains to be written’.2 But even more perplexing is the almost universal misconstruction placed upon Mill’s ethical doctrines; for his Utilitarianism is a work which every undergraduate is set to read and which one would therefore expect Mill’s critics to have read at least once.


Moral Obligation Moral Philosophy Moral Rule Deductive Logic Receive View 
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Copyright information

© J. B. Schneewind 1968

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  • J. O. Urmson

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