Ideas of John Stuart Mill, by Theme

[British, 1806 - 1873, Son of James Mill (close friend of Bentham). Member of Parliament in later life.]

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4. Formal Logic / F. Set Theory ST / 7. Natural Sets
What physical facts could underlie 0 or 1, or very large numbers? [Frege]
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 2. Logical Connectives / d. and
Combining two distinct assertions does not necessarily lead to a single 'complex proposition'
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / a. Names
All names are names of something, real or imaginary
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / c. Names as referential
Mill says names have denotation but not connotation [Kripke]
Proper names are just labels for persons or objects, and the meaning is the object [Lycan]
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / a. Units
Numbers must be assumed to have identical units, as horses are equalised in 'horse-power'
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 4. Axioms for Number / a. Axioms for numbers
The only axioms needed are for equality, addition, and successive numbers [Shapiro]
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 5. Definitions of Number / b. Greek arithmetic
Arithmetic is based on definitions, and Sums of equals are equal, and Differences of equals are equal
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / a. Mathematical empiricism
Mill says logic and maths is induction based on a very large number of instances [Ayer]
If two black and two white objects in practice produced five, what colour is the fifth one? [Lewis,CI]
Mill mistakes particular applications as integral to arithmetic, instead of general patterns [Dummett]
Things possess the properties of numbers, as quantity, and as countable parts
Numbers have generalised application to entities (such as bodies or sounds)
There are no such things as numbers in the abstract
Different parcels made from three pebbles produce different actual sensations
'2 pebbles and 1 pebble' and '3 pebbles' name the same aggregation, but different facts
3=2+1 presupposes collections of objects ('Threes'), which may be divided thus
We can't easily distinguish 102 horses from 103, but we could arrange them to make it obvious
Numbers denote physical properties of physical phenomena
Arithmetical results give a mode of formation of a given number
12 is the cube of 1728 means pebbles can be aggregated a certain way
Numbers must be of something; they don't exist as abstractions
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / c. Against mathematical empiricism
Mill is too imprecise, and is restricted to simple arithmetic [Kitcher]
Empirical theories of arithmetic ignore zero, limit our maths, and need probability to get started [Frege]
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 5. Numbers as Adjectival
Numbers are a very general property of objects [Brown,JR]
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / a. Parts of objects
Whatever is made up of parts is made up of parts of those parts
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / a. Essence as necessary properties
The essence is that without which a thing can neither be, nor be conceived to be
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 2. Nature of Necessity
Necessity is what will be, despite any alternative suppositions whatever
Necessity can only mean what must be, without conditions of any kind
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 2. Phenomenalism
External objects are permanent possibilities of sensation
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 6. Inference in Perception
Most perception is one-tenth observation and nine-tenths inference
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 4. Pro-Empiricism
Clear concepts result from good observation, extensive experience, and accurate memory
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 5. Anomalies
Inductive generalisation is more reliable than one of its instances; they can't all be wrong
14. Science / C. Induction / 1. Induction
The whole theory of induction rests on causes
Mill's methods (Difference,Agreement,Residues,Concomitance,Hypothesis) don't nail induction [Lipton]
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / a. Explanation
Surprisingly, empiricists before Mill ignore explanation, which seems to transcend experience [Ruben]
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / e. Lawlike explanations
Explanation is fitting of facts into ever more general patterns of regularity [Ruben]
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / g. Causal explanations
Causal inference is by spotting either Agreements or Differences [Lipton]
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / a. Best explanation
The Methods of Difference and of Agreement are forms of inference to the best explanation [Lipton]
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / d. Other minds by analogy
I judge others' feeling by analogy with my body and behaviour
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind
We can focus our minds on what is common to a whole class, neglecting other aspects
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 7. Seeing Resemblance
We don't recognise comparisons by something in our minds; the concepts result from the comparisons
18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 1. Abstract Thought
General conceptions are a necessary preliminary to Induction
The study of the nature of Abstract Ideas does not belong to logic, but to a different science
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
The will, in the beginning, is entirely produced by desire
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
Motive shows the worth of the agent, but not of the action
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
Mill wondered if he would be happy if all his aims were realised, and answered no [Critchley]
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
It is a crime for someone with a violent disposition to get drunk
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / c. Ethical intuitionism
With early training, any absurdity or evil may be given the power of conscience
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Virtues only have value because they achieve some further end
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
Orthodox morality is the only one which feels obligatory
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
Ethics rests on utility, which is the permanent progressive interests of people
Actions are right if they promote pleasure, wrong if they promote pain
Utilitarianism only works if everybody has a totally equal right to happiness
The English believe in the task of annihilating evil for the victory of good [Nietzsche]
Mill's qualities of pleasure is an admission that there are other good states of mind than pleasure [Ross]
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 2. Ideal of Pleasure
Ultimate goods such as pleasure can never be proved to be good
Only pleasure and freedom from pain are desirable as ends
Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 3. Motivation for Altruism
General happiness is only desirable because individuals desire their own happiness
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 5. Rule Utilitarianism
Moral rules protecting human welfare are more vital than local maxims
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 3. Natural Values / a. Natural freedom
Individuals have sovereignty over their own bodies and minds
24. Political Theory / A. Basis of a State / 3. Natural Values / c. Natural rights
Rights are a matter of justice, not of benevolence
No individual has the right to receive our benevolence
24. Political Theory / B. Nature of a State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. General will
The will of the people is that of the largest or most active part of the people
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 2. Leaders / c. Despotism
It is evil to give a government any more power than is necessary
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 3. Government / a. Government
Individuals often do things better than governments
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 4. Changing the State / b. Devolution
Aim for the maximum dissemination of power consistent with efficiency
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 4. Social Utilitarianism
Maximise happiness by an area of strict privacy, and an area of utilitarian interventions [Wolff,J]
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
People who transact their own business will also have the initiative to control their government
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / b. Consultation
How people vote should be on public record, so they can be held accountable [Wolff,J]
Voting is a strict duty, like jury service, and must only be aimed at the public good
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
Direct democracy is inexperience judging experience, and ignorance judging knowledge
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 5. Democracy / d. Representative democracy
People can only participate in decisions in small communities, so representatives are needed
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / a. Liberalism basics
Prevention of harm to others is the only justification for exercising power over people
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / b. Liberal individualism
The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 6. Liberalism / d. Liberal freedom
The main argument for freedom is that interference with it is usually misguided
25. Social Practice / A. Freedoms / 3. Free speech
Liberty arises at the point where people can freely and equally discuss things
25. Social Practice / A. Freedoms / 5. Freedom of lifestyle
Utilitarianism values liberty, but guides us on which ones we should have or not have [Wolff,J]
Mill defends freedom as increasing happiness, but maybe it is an intrinsic good [Wolff,J]
True freedom is pursuing our own good, while not impeding others
Individuals are not accountable for actions which only concern themselves
Blocking entry to an unsafe bridge does not infringe liberty, since no one wants unsafe bridges
Pimping and running a gambling-house are on the border between toleration and restraint
Restraint for its own sake is an evil
25. Social Practice / C. Rights / 1. Basis of Rights
A right is a valid claim to society's protection
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 3. Punishment / a. Right to punish
Society can punish actions which it believes to be prejudicial to others
25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 3. Welfare provision
Benefits performed by individuals, not by government, help also to educate them
25. Social Practice / E. Policies / 5. Education / a. Aims of education
We need individual opinions and conduct, and State education is a means to prevent that
25. Social Practice / F. Life Issues / 3. Abortion
It is a crime to create a being who lacks the ordinary chances of a desirable existence
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / c. Conditions of causation
A cause is the total of all the conditions which inevitably produce the result
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / d. Selecting the cause
Causes and conditions are not distinct, because we select capriciously from among them
The strict cause is the total positive and negative conditions which ensure the consequent
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
Causation is just invariability of succession between every natural fact and a preceding fact
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
A cause is an antecedent which invariably and unconditionally leads to a phenomenon
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / a. Regularity theory
Mill's regularity theory of causation is based on an effect preceded by a conjunction of causes [Psillos]
In Mill's 'Method of Agreement' cause is the common factor in a range of different cases [Psillos]
In Mill's 'Method of Difference' the cause is what stops the effect when it is removed [Psillos]
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / b. Best system theory
What are the fewest propositions from which all natural uniformities could be inferred?
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / c. Teleological Proof critique
We don't get a love of 'order' from nature - which is thoroughly chaotic
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Christianity / a. Christianity
The ethics of the Gospel has been supplemented by barbarous Old Testament values
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / a. Problem of Evil
Evil comes from good just as often as good comes from evil
Belief that an afterlife is required for justice is an admission that this life is very unjust
No necessity ties an omnipotent Creator, so he evidently wills human misery
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / d. Natural Evil
Nature dispenses cruelty with no concern for either mercy or justice
Nature makes childbirth a miserable experience, often leading to the death of the mother
Hurricanes, locusts, floods and blight can starve a million people to death
Killing is a human crime, but nature kills everyone, and often with great tortures