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The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, the Subjection of Women and Utilitarianism (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – May 14, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The writings of John Stuart Mill have become the cornerstone of political liberalism. Collected for the first time in this volume are Mill?s three seminal and most widely read works: On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, and Utilitarianism. A brilliant defense of individual rights versus the power of the state, On Liberty is essential reading for anyone interested in political thought and theory. As Bertrand Russell reflected, ?On Liberty remains a classic . . . the present world would be better than it is, if [Mill?s] principles were more respected.?

This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition includes newly commissioned endnotes and commentary by Dale E. Miller, and an index.

About the Author

J. B. Schneewind is a professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Sidgwick’s Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy and The Invention of Autonomy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; New edition edition (May 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375759182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759185
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By philiciono on March 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
Not that Mill was ever obscure or inaccessible, but while Prof Schneewind's Introduction adds little value, the notes and annotations by Dale E Miller certainly renders this compendium transparent, even to folks like me who have been dumbed down by years of television debates as primary intellectual nourishment. He enlightens each of Mill's chapters with a short and easily assimilated introductory overview. Complementing this with text annotations, collected at the back of the book. The annotations appear to be very well selected, as they are never too numerous to make flipping to the back of the book tedious, yet they manage to illuminate every aspect or item I might have found even remotely confusing, ambiguous or otherwise incomprehensible in the modern idiom.
This text is an excellent starting point for reading JS Mill, and is very well suited to the armchair philosopher who wishes to get into the material with ease and without encumbrance. However, there may be too little in the annotations in terms of external references, or cross references to Mill's other writings, or background information to satisfy the more academically inclined.
Of course anyone with even a nominal interest in what liberty is... NEEDS to read JS Mill. But then, you wouldn't be here if you didn't know that, right?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steven Phillips on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am interested in Mill's contributions to utilitarian philosophy. Utilitarianism holds that morals should be based upon those acts which promote the greatest good to the greatest number of people. Human actions which foster happiness are held to be right, while those which yield the converse are wrong. Mill defines happiness as intended pleasure with the absence of pain. Also, he maintains that intended pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as personal ends. Pleasure which employs one's higher faculties tends to give more satisfaction than baser pleasures, or mere sensations. Few humans would exchange their limited, fleeting pleasures for the fullest ration of the pleasures of the "lower" animals. Since a noble character is made happier by its nobleness, utilitarianism can only attain its end towards the multiplication of happiness through a general elevation of the nobleness of the character of the larger population.

Mill states that pleasures and pains have different values to the actor. Only the judgment honed by experience can assist us in assessing appropriate trade-offs in acquiring a particular pleasure at the cost of gaining a specific pain as well. This type of cost/benefit analysis advocated by utilitarians gives rise to the criticism that utilitarianism results in coldness and lack of sympathy towards others. However, Mill claims that the proof of the worth of utilitarianism, or any other moral system, lies in its ability to produce good results.

Although it is sometimes difficult to wade through the dryness of Mill's rhetoric, it is truly worth it for the philosophical insights contained. This book is a good survey of Mill's thoughts on utilitarian ethics and many other subjects of value.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Schriftman on November 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
These three (fairly long) essays on the liberty of the individual, practical ethics, and the role of women are absolutely fundamental. Though written in the mid-19th-century, Mill still has a message for today, and that for three reasons:

(1) He was ahead of his time and his thoughts helped shape our society. By reading him, we are looking at and appreciating our foundation.

(2) His lucid thoughts are a good reminder not to lose our values when we (and especially our governments) are in danger of doing so by unnecessarily infringing on the liberty of the individual.

(3) Some of his critiques are even more applicable today than back then. For example, Mill shows that technological progress, too, can be an infringement on individuality. Said he,

"The circumstances which surround different classes and individuals, and shape their characters, are daily becoming more assimilated. Formerly, different ranks, different neighbourhoods, different trades and professions, lived in what might be called different worlds; at present, to a great degree in the same. Comparatively speaking, they now read the same things, listen to the same things, see the same things, go to the same places, have their hopes and fears directed to the same objects, have the same rights and liberties, and the same means of asserting them. Great as are the differences of position which remain, they are nothing to those which have ceased. And the assimilation is still proceeding. All the political changes of the age promote it, since they all tend to raise the low and to lower the high. Every extension of education promotes it, because education brings people under common influences, and gives them access to the general stock of facts and sentiments.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. G. Black on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perhaps I received by mistake a bad printing, but this book's errors are far too many to list in a review of this length. They include:
1) No introduction, notes, index, or indeed any pages that do not contain the text of the book, save the title page.
2) A typo-per-page ratio rivaled by 2nd-grade essays, appearing to insist that "t" is a word in the English language.
3) Multiple printing errors, causing several sections to be printed multiple times. I have no guarantee that the entire text of these works is in fact contained in the book.
4) Extremely uncomfortable margins that give the feel of an edition produced by a press more accustomed to printing single sheets of paper than books.
5) The lack of any names inside the book whom I could hold accountable for such a farcical edition of a classic writer being released.

If you think I'm making any of this up, just look at the top of the book's amazon page at the product description. It is by far the most poorly written "professional" description of a book I have ever come across--and that is the exact text that appears on the back of my book.

Do yourself a favor and buy any edition of Mill's work but this one.
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