Mill’s Circle(s) of Liberty

SVEN OVE HANSSON
SOCIAL THEORY AND PRACTICE 41.4 (2015): 734-749

Abstract: J.S. Mill’s advocacy of liberty was based only in part on his harm principle. He also endorsed two other principles that considerably extend the scope of liberty: first, a principle of individual liberty that is based on the value of positive freedom and of developing individuality, and second, a principle of free trade or economic freedom that is based on the value of economic efficiency. An analysis is offered of how these three principles are combined in Mill’s account of liberty and how they connect with his antipaternalism. It is proposed that his appeal in On Liberty to positive freedom and the development of individuality provides a uniting principle that makes his view on liberty cohere with his utilitarianism.