This week, we’re thinking about J.S. Mill and the good life. While Mill valued individual choice and freedom, he was also a utilitarian who believed you should always do what produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Can these strands of Mill's thought be reconciled?
What Is It
John Stuart Mill was one of the most important British philosophers of the 19th century. As a liberal, he thought that individuals are generally the best judges of their own welfare. But Mill was also a utilitarian who thought that there were objectively lower and higher pleasures and that the good life was one which maximized higher pleasures. So is there a way to reconcile Mill’s liberal project with his utilitarianism? Is the good life for Mill one in which individuals determine their own paths? Or should those who know better still try to nudge others to live better lives? John and Ken fulfill their potential with David Brink from UC San Diego, author of Mill's Progressive Principles.
What is the good life?
Are we each free to decide which life is best for us?
Is a life good because I choose it, or do I choose it because it's good?