Mill and the Right of Free Expression
John Stuart Mill’ s reputation throughout most of this century in the world of philosophy was akin to that of Linda Lovelace’s in the world of acting. Though recognized for special talents, neither would be place among the leaders in the field. For much too long, there had been a fairly standard interpretation of Mill’s moral theories (one that is still sometimes encountered in elementary textbooks in ethics), according to which he inherited doctrines from his father James Mill, and from Jeremy Bentham, onto which he grafted other views not compatible with those of his mentors. Raised on a pablum laced with doctrinaire utilitarianism, it was thought, his better instincts led him to a wider view of human nature and a more humane set of moral principles, that could not be fully digested in combination with a strict utilitarian diet. Thus, unable to shake off his infantile security blanket, he could be charged with inconsistency and equivocation. On the old account of Mill, he came off as a good, kind, benevolent man whose basic morality and humaneness outstripped his moral theories, and, thus, as a morally admirable fathead.
KeywordsHuman Dignity Moral Theory Free Speech Moral Rule Free Expression
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