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Ideas of John Stuart Mill, by Text

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

1843 System of Logic
p.4 Mill is too imprecise, and is restricted to simple arithmetic
     Full Idea: The problem with Mill is that many of his formulations are imprecise, and he only considers the most rudimentary parts of arithmetic.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by Philip Kitcher - The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge Intro
     A reaction: This is from a fan of Mill, trying to restore his approach in the face of the authoritative and crushing criticisms offered by Frege. I too am a fan of Mill's approach. Patterns can be discerned in arrangements of pebbles. Infinities are a problem.
p.9 What physical facts could underlie 0 or 1, or very large numbers?
     Full Idea: What in the world can be the observed fact, or the physical fact, which is asserted in the definition of the number 777864? ...What a pity that Mill did not also illustrate the physical facts underlying the numbers 0 and 1!
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by Gottlob Frege - Grundlagen der Arithmetik (Foundations) §7
     A reaction: I still think patterns could be an empirical foundation for arithmetic, though you still have to grasp the abstract concept of the pattern. An innate capacity to spot resemblance gets you a long way.
p.26 Mill says names have denotation but not connotation
     Full Idea: It is a well known doctrine of Mill that names have denotation but not connotation.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by Saul A. Kripke - Naming and Necessity lectures Lecture 1
     A reaction: A nice starting point for any discussion of the topic. The obvious response is that a name like 'Attila the Hun' seems to have a very vague denotation for most of us, but a rather powerful connotation.
p.35 Causes and conditions are not distinct, because we select capriciously from among them
     Full Idea: Nothing can better show the absence of any scientific ground for the distinction between the cause of a phenomena and its conditions, than the capricious manner in which we select from among the conditions that which we choose to denominate the cause.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]), quoted by Jonathan Schaffer - The Metaphysics of Causation 2.2
     A reaction: [ref Mill p.196, 1846 edn] Schaffer gives this as the main argument for the 'no-basis' view of the selection of what causes an event. The usual thought is that it is entirely our immediate interests which make us select THE cause. Not convinced.
p.37 Proper names are just labels for persons or objects, and the meaning is the object
     Full Idea: Mill seemed to defend the view that proper names are merely labels for individual persons or objects, and contribute no more than those individuals themselves to the meanings of sentences in which they occur.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by William Lycan - Philosophy of Language
     A reaction: Identity statements can become trivial on this view ('Twain is Clemens'). Modern views have become more sympathetic to Mill, since externalism places meanings outside the head of the speaker.
p.99 Mill says logic and maths is induction based on a very large number of instances
     Full Idea: Mill maintained that the truths of logic and mathematics are not necessary or certain, by saying these propositions are inductive generalisations based on an extremely large number of instances.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by A.J. Ayer - Language,Truth and Logic Ch.4
     A reaction: Ayer asserts that they are necessary (but only because they are tautological). I like the idea that maths is the 'science of patterns', but that might lead from an empirical start to a rationalist belief in a priori synthetic truths.
p.112 Surprisingly, empiricists before Mill ignore explanation, which seems to transcend experience
     Full Idea: It is surprising that no empiricist philosopher before Mill turned in an explicit way to the scrutiny of the concept of explanation, which had …every appearance of being experience-transcendent.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by David-Hillel Ruben - Explaining Explanation Ch 4
     A reaction: Yes indeed! This is why explanation is absolutely basic, to philosophy and to human understanding. The whole of philosophy is a quest for explanations, so to be strictly empirical about it strikes me as crazy.
p.150 A cause is the total of all the conditions which inevitably produce the result
     Full Idea: A cause is the sum total of the conditions positive and negative taken together ...which being realized, the consequent invariably follows.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]), quoted by Donald Davidson - Causal Relations §1
     A reaction: This has obvious problems. The absence of Napoleon was a cause of the English Civil War. The Big Bang was a cause of, well, every event. As Davidson notes, some narrowing down is needed.
p.201 Explanation is fitting of facts into ever more general patterns of regularity
     Full Idea: For Mill, explanation was always the fitting of facts into ever more general patterns of regularity.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by David-Hillel Ruben - Explaining Explanation Ch 6
     A reaction: This seems to nicely capture the standard empirical approach to explanation. If you say that this fitting in doesn't explain much, the answer (I think) is that this is the best we can do.
p.244 Empirical theories of arithmetic ignore zero, limit our maths, and need probability to get started
     Full Idea: Mill does not give us a clue as to how to understand the number zero, he limits our mathematical knowledge to the limits of our experience, ..and induction can only give you probability, but that presupposes arithmetical laws.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by Gottlob Frege - Grundlagen der Arithmetik (Foundations)
     A reaction: This summarises Frege's criticisms of Mill's empirical account of maths. I like 'maths is the science of patterns', in which case zero is just a late-introduced trick (it is hardly a Platonic Form!), and induction is the wrong account to give.
p.367 If two black and two white objects in practice produced five, what colour is the fifth one?
     Full Idea: If Mill has a demon who, every time two things are brought together with two other things, always introduces a fifth, then if two black marbles and two white ones are put in an urn, the demon could choose his color, but there would be more of one colour.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843]) by C.I. Lewis - A Pragmatic Conception of the A Priori p.367
     A reaction: Nice to see philosophers fighting back against demons. This is a lovely argument against the absurdity of thinking that experience could ever controvert a priori knowledge (though Lewis is no great fan of the latter).
1.04.3 p.90 Combining two distinct assertions does not necessarily lead to a single 'complex proposition'
     Full Idea: In 'Caesar is dead, and Brutus is alive' ...there are here two distinct assertions; and we might as well call a street a complex house, as these two propositions a complex proposition.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 1.04.3)
     A reaction: Arthur Prior, in his article on 'tonk', cites this to claim that the mere account of the and-introduction rule does not guarantee the existence of any conjunctive proposition that can result from it. Mill says you are adding a third proposition.
1.6.2 p.123 The essence is that without which a thing can neither be, nor be conceived to be
     Full Idea: The essence of a thing was said to be that without which the thing could neither be, nor be conceived to be.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 1.6.2)
     A reaction: Fine cites this as the 'modal' account of essence, as opposed to the 'definitional' account.
2.6 p.258 Mill mistakes particular applications as integral to arithmetic, instead of general patterns
     Full Idea: Mill's mistake is taking particular applications as integral to the sense of arithmetical propositions. But what is integral to arithmetic is the general principle that explains its applicability, and determines the pattern of particular applications.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6) by Michael Dummett - Frege philosophy of mathematics Ch.20
     A reaction: [Dummett is summarising Frege's view] Sounds like a tidy objection, but you still have to connect the general principles and patterns to the physical world. 'Structure' could be the magic word to achieve this.
2.6.2 p.293 Things possess the properties of numbers, as quantity, and as countable parts
     Full Idea: All things possess quantity; consist of parts which can be numbered; and in that character possess all the properties which are called properties of numbers.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: Here Mill is skating on the very thinnest of ice, and I find myself reluctantly siding with Frege. It is a very optimistic empiricist who hopes to find the numbers actually occurring as properties of experienced objects. A pack of cards, for example.
2.6.2 p.293 Numbers have generalised application to entities (such as bodies or sounds)
     Full Idea: 'Ten' must mean ten bodies, or ten sounds, or ten beatings of the pulse. But though numbers must be numbers of something, they may be numbers of anything.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: Mill always prefers things in close proximity, in space or time. 'I've had ten headaches in the last year'. 'There are ten reasons for doubting p'. His second point puts him very close to Aristotle in his view.
2.6.2 p.293 There are no such things as numbers in the abstract
     Full Idea: There are no such things as numbers in the abstract.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: Depends. Would we want to say that 'horses don't exist' (although each individual horse does exist)? It sounds odd to say of an idea that it doesn't exist, when you are currently thinking about it. I am, however, sympathetic to Mill.
2.6.2 p.295 '2 pebbles and 1 pebble' and '3 pebbles' name the same aggregation, but different facts
     Full Idea: The expressions '2 pebbles and 1 pebble' and '3 pebbles' stand for the same aggregation of objects, but do not stand for the same physical fact. They name the same objects in different states, 'denoting' the same things, with different 'connotations'.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: Nothing in this would convert me from the analytic view to the empirical view of simple arithmetic, if I were that way inclined. Personally I think of three pebbles as 4 minus 1, because I am haunted by the thought of a missing stone.
2.6.2 p.295 Different parcels made from three pebbles produce different actual sensations
     Full Idea: Three pebbles make different sense impressions in one parcel or in two. That the same pebbles by an alteration of place and arrangement may be made to produce either sensation is not the identical proposition.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: [compressed] Not quite clear, but Mill seems to be adamant that we really must experience the separation, and not just think what 'may' happen, so Frege is right that Mill is lucky that everything is not 'nailed down'.
2.6.2 p.296 3=2+1 presupposes collections of objects ('Threes'), which may be divided thus
     Full Idea: 'Three is two and one' presupposes that collections of objects exist, which while they impress the senses thus, ¶¶¶, may be separated into two parts, thus, ¶¶ ¶. This being granted, we term all such parcels Threes.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.2)
     A reaction: Mill is clearly in trouble here because he sticks to simple arithmetic. He must deal with parcels too big for humans to count, and parcels so big that they could not naturally exist, and that is before you even reach infinite parcels.
2.6.3 p.297 Numbers must be assumed to have identical units, as horses are equalised in 'horse-power'
     Full Idea: There is one hypothetical element in the basis of arithmetic, without which none of it would be true: all the numbers are numbers of the same or of equal units. When we talk of forty horse-power, we assume all horses are of equal strength.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.3)
     A reaction: Of course, horses are not all of equal strength, so there is a problem here for your hard-line empiricist. Mill needs processes of idealisation and abstraction before his empirical arithmetic can get off the ground.
2.6.3 p.297 Arithmetic is based on definitions, and Sums of equals are equal, and Differences of equals are equal
     Full Idea: The inductions of arithmetic are based on so-called definitions (such as '2 and 1 are three'), and on two axioms: The sums of equals are equal, The differences of equals are equal.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 2.6.3)
     A reaction: These are axioms for arithmetical operations, rather than for numbers themselves (which, for Mill, do not require axioms as they are empirically derived).
3.05.2 p.132 The whole theory of induction rests on causes
     Full Idea: The notion of cause is the root of the whole theory of induction.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.05.2), quoted by Peter Lipton - Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) 08 'From cause'
     A reaction: This sounds much better to me than the Humean view that it rests on the psychology of regularity and habit. However, maybe Hume describes induction, and Mill is adding abduction (inference to the best explanation).
3.05.3 p.383 The strict cause is the total positive and negative conditions which ensure the consequent
     Full Idea: The cause, philosophically speaking, is the sum total of the conditions, positive and negative taken together; the whole of the contigencies of every description, which being realized, the consequent invariably follows.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.05.3)
     A reaction: This somewhat notorious remark is not going to be much help in a law court or a laboratory. It is that view which says that the Big Bang must be included in every causal list ever compiled. Well, yes...
3.05.6 p.392 A cause is an antecedent which invariably and unconditionally leads to a phenomenon
     Full Idea: We may define the cause of a phenomenon to be the antecedent, or the concurrence of the antecedents, on which it is invariably and unconditionally consequent.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.05.6)
     A reaction: This ignores the possibility of the world ending just before the effect occurs, the 'ceteris paribus' clause. If it only counts as a cause if the effect has actually occurred, we begin to suspect tautology.
3.06.6 p.392 Necessity is what will be, despite any alternative suppositions whatever
     Full Idea: That which is necessary, that which must be, means that which will be, whatever suppositions we may make in regard to all other things.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.06.6)
     A reaction: [Mill discusses causal necessity] This is quoted by McFetridge. This slightly firms up the definition as 'what has to be true', though it makes it dependent on our 'suppositions'. Presumably nothing beyond our powers of supposition could matter either.
3.07 p.18 Causal inference is by spotting either Agreements or Differences
     Full Idea: The best known account of causal inference is Mill's Method of Agreement (only one antecedent is shared by the effects), and the Method of Difference (there is only one difference prior to the effect occurring or not occurring).
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.07) by Peter Lipton - Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) 01 'Descr'
     A reaction: [my summary of Lipton's summary of Mill]
3.07/8 p.99 The Methods of Difference and of Agreement are forms of inference to the best explanation
     Full Idea: Like Mill's Method of Difference, applications of the Method of Agreement are naturally construed as inferences to the best explanation.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.07/8) by Peter Lipton - Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) 06 'The Method'
     A reaction: This sort of thoroughly sensible approach to understanding modes of investigation has been absurdly sidelined by the desire to 'deduce' observations from 'laws'. Scientific investigation is no different from enquiry in daily life. Where are my glasses?
3.14.4-5 p.126 Mill's methods (Difference,Agreement,Residues,Concomitance,Hypothesis) don't nail induction
     Full Idea: The Method of Difference, and even the full four 'experimental methods' (Difference, Agreement, Residues and Concomitant Variations) are agreed on all sides to be incomplete accounts of inductive inference. Mill himself added the Method of Hypothesis.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.14.4-5) by Peter Lipton - Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) 08 'Improved'
     A reaction: If induction is just 'learning from experience' (my preferred definition) then there is unlikely to be a precise account of its methods. Mill seems to have done a lovely job.
3.24.5 p.150 We can't easily distinguish 102 horses from 103, but we could arrange them to make it obvious
     Full Idea: 102 horses are not as easily distinguished from 103 as two are from three, yet the horses may be so placed that a difference will be perceptible.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.24.5)
     A reaction: More trouble for Mill. We are now moving from the claim that we actually perceive numbers to the claim that we could if we arranged things right. But we would still only see which group of horses was bigger by one, not how many horses there were.
3.24.5 p.150 Numbers denote physical properties of physical phenomena
     Full Idea: The fact asserted in the definition of a number is a physical fact. Each of the numbers two, three, four denotes physical phenomena, and connotes a physical property of those phenomena. Two denotes all pairs of things, and twelve all dozens.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.24.5)
     A reaction: The least plausible part of Mill's thesis. Is the fact that a pair of things is fewer than five things also a property? You see two boots, or you see a pair of boots, depending partly on you. Is pure two a visible property? Courage and an onion?
3.24.5 p.151 Arithmetical results give a mode of formation of a given number
     Full Idea: Every statement of the result of an arithmetical operation is a statement of one of the modes of formation of a given number.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.24.5)
     A reaction: Although Mill sticks cautiously to very simple arithmetic, inviting empirical accounts of much higher mathematics, I think the phrase 'modes of formation' of numbers is very helpful. It could take us either into structuralism, or into constructivism.
3.24.5 p.152 12 is the cube of 1728 means pebbles can be aggregated a certain way
     Full Idea: When we say 12 is the cube of 1728, we affirm that if we had sufficient pebbles, we put them into parcels or aggregates called twelves, and put those twelves into similar collections, and make twelve of these largests parcels, we have the aggregate 1728.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.24.5)
     A reaction: There is always hidden modal thinking in Mill's proposals, despite his longing to stick to actual experience. Imagination actually plays a much bigger role in his theory than sense experience does.
3.24.5 p.153 Whatever is made up of parts is made up of parts of those parts
     Full Idea: Whatever is made up of parts is made up of parts of those parts.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.24.5)
     A reaction: Mill considers this principle to be fundamental to the possibilities of arithmetic. Presumably he thought of it as an inductive inference from our dealings with physical objects.
3.4.1 p.366 What are the fewest propositions from which all natural uniformities could be inferred?
     Full Idea: What are the fewest general propositions from which all the uniformities which exist in the universe might be deductively inferred?
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.4.1)
     A reaction: This is the germ of the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis view.
3.5.2 p.178 Causation is just invariability of succession between every natural fact and a preceding fact
     Full Idea: The Law of Causation, the recognition of which is the main pillar of inductive science, is but the familiar truth, that invariability of succession is found by observation between every fact in nature and some other fact which has preceded it.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 3.5.2), quoted by Bertrand Russell - On the Notion of Cause p.178
     A reaction: Note that Mill rests causation on 'facts'. In the empiricist Mill endorsing the views of Hume. Russell attacks the bogus claim that science rests on causation. Personally I think Mill's view is incorrect.
4.1.2 p.204 Inductive generalisation is more reliable than one of its instances; they can't all be wrong
     Full Idea: A general proposition collected from particulars is often more certainly true than any one of the particular propositions from which, by an act of induction, it was inferred. It might be erroneous in any instance, but cannot be erroneous in all of them.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.1.2), quoted by Peter Lipton - Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) 11 'The scientific'
     A reaction: One anomaly can be ignored, but several can't, especially if the anomalies agree.
4.1.2 p.204 Most perception is one-tenth observation and nine-tenths inference
     Full Idea: In almost every act of our perceiving faculties, observation and inference are intimately blended. What we are said to observe is usually a compound result, of which one-tenth may be observation, and the remaining nine-tenths inference.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.1.2), quoted by Peter Lipton - Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd) 11 'The scientific'
     A reaction: We seem to think that his kind of observation is a great realisation of twentieth century thought, but thoughtful empiricists spotted it much earlier.
4.2.1 p.195 The study of the nature of Abstract Ideas does not belong to logic, but to a different science
     Full Idea: The metaphysical inquiry into the nature and composition of what have been called Abstract Ideas, or in other words, of the notions which answer in the mind to classes and to general names, belongs not to Logic, but to a different science.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.2.1)
     A reaction: He doesn't name the science, but the point here seems to be precisely what Frege so vigorously disagreed with. I would say that the state of being 'abstract' has logical aspects, and can be partly described by logic, but that Mill is basically right.
4.2.1 p.196 We can focus our minds on what is common to a whole class, neglecting other aspects
     Full Idea: The voluntary power which the mind has, of attending to one part of what is present at any moment, and neglecting another part, enables us to be unaffected by anything in the idea which is not really common to the whole class.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.2.1)
     A reaction: There is a question for empiricists of whether abstraction is a 'voluntary' power or a mechanical one. Associationism presents it as more mechanical. I would say, with Mill, that it is a least partly voluntary, and even rational.
4.2.1 p.196 General conceptions are a necessary preliminary to Induction
     Full Idea: Forming general conceptions is a necessary preliminary to Induction.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.2.1)
     A reaction: A key link in the framework of empirical philosophies, which gets us from experience to science. Induction is the very process of generalisation. We can't bring a concept like 'evolution' to preliminary observations, so it must be formulated inductively.
4.2.2 p.196 We don't recognise comparisons by something in our minds; the concepts result from the comparisons
     Full Idea: It is not a law of our intellect that in comparing things and noting their agreements we recognise as realized in the outward world something we already had in our minds. The conception found its way to us as the result of such a comparison.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.2.2)
     A reaction: He recognises, of course, that this gradually becomes a two-way process. In the physicalist view of things, it is not really of great importance which concepts are hard-wired, and which constructed culturally or through perception.
4.2.5 p.206 Clear concepts result from good observation, extensive experience, and accurate memory
     Full Idea: The principle requisites of clear conceptions, are habits of attentive observation, an extensive experience, and a memory which receives and retains an exact image of what is observed.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], 4.2.5)
     A reaction: Empiricists are always crying out for people to 'attend to the evidence', and this is the deeper reason why. Not only will one know the world better in a direct way, but one will actually think more clearly. Darwin is the perfect model for this.
Ch.4 p.55 Numbers are a very general property of objects
     Full Idea: Mill held that numbers are a kind of very general property that objects possess.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], Ch.4) by James Robert Brown - Philosophy of Mathematics
     A reaction: Intuitively this sounds hopeless, because if you place one apple next to another you introduce 'two', but which apple has changed its property? Both? It seems to be a Cambridge change. It isn't a change that would bother the apples. Kitcher pursues this.
p.217 p.60 Mill's regularity theory of causation is based on an effect preceded by a conjunction of causes
     Full Idea: Millian causation is a version of the Regularity Theory, but with the addition that when claiming that an effect invariably follows from the cause, the cause is not a single factor, but a whole conjunction of necessary and sufficient conditions.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], p.217) by Stathis Psillos - Causation and Explanation §2.2
     A reaction: Psillos endorses this as an improvement on Hume. But while we may replicate one event preceding another to get regularity, groups of events are hardly ever identical, so no precise pattern will ever be seen.
p.245? p.95 Numbers must be of something; they don't exist as abstractions
     Full Idea: All numbers must be numbers of something: there are no such things as numbers in the abstract.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], p.245?), quoted by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.3
     A reaction: This shows why the concept of 'abstraction' is such a deep problem. Numbers can't be properties of objects, because two boots can become one boot without changing the surviving boot. But why should abstractions have to 'exist'?
p.255 p.63 In Mill's 'Method of Agreement' cause is the common factor in a range of different cases
     Full Idea: In Mill's 'Method of Agreement' the cause is the common factor in a number of otherwise different cases in which the effect occurs.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], p.255) by Stathis Psillos - Causation and Explanation §2.3
     A reaction: This looks more likely to be good evidence for the cause of an event, rather than a definition of what a cause actually is. Suppose a footballer only scores if and only if I go to watch him?
p.256 p.64 In Mill's 'Method of Difference' the cause is what stops the effect when it is removed
     Full Idea: In Mill's 'Method of Difference' the cause is the factor which is different in two cases which are similar, except that in one the effect occurs, and in the other it doesn't.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], p.256) by Stathis Psillos - Causation and Explanation §2.3
     A reaction: Like the Method of Agreement, this is a good test, but is unlikely to be a conclusive hallmark of causation. A footballer may never score unless I go to watch him. I become his lucky mascot…
p.32 p.399 All names are names of something, real or imaginary
     Full Idea: All names are names of something, real or imaginary.
     From: John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], p.32), quoted by Mark Sainsbury - The Essence of Reference 18.2
     A reaction: Mill's example of of being like a chalk mark on a door, but Sainsbury points out that names can be detached from bearers in a way that chalk marks can't.
p.610? p.95 The only axioms needed are for equality, addition, and successive numbers
     Full Idea: Mill says arithmetic has two axioms, that 'things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other', and 'equals added to equals make equal sums', plus a definition for each numeral as 'formed by the addition of a unit to the previous number'.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (System of Logic [1843], p.610?) by Stewart Shapiro - Thinking About Mathematics 4.3
     A reaction: The difficulty here seems to be the definition of 1, and (even worse for an empiricist), of 0. Then he may have a little trouble when he reaches infinity.
1857 On Liberty
p.75 We may restrict a person's freedom for the sake of others, but not for the person's own good
     Full Idea: For Mill, restrictions of liberty may sometimes be justified by appealing to the interests of other people, but to restrict someone's freedom for his own good is not permissible.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Glover - Causing Death and Saving Lives §5.1
     A reaction: Clearly this does not apply to children, and I am inclined to think that we are all children in some aspects of complex adult life.
p.119 Maximise happiness by an area of strict privacy, and an area of utilitarian interventions
     Full Idea: For Mill the greatest happiness will be achieved by giving people a private sphere of interests where no intervention is permitted, while allowing a public sphere where intervention is possible, but only on utilitarian grounds.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Liberty'
     A reaction: This is probably standard liberal practice nowadays. Freely consenting adult sexual activity is agreed to be wholly private. At least some lip-service is paid to increasing happiness when government intervenes.
p.124 Mill defends freedom as increasing happiness, but maybe it is an intrinsic good
     Full Idea: Mill has presented liberty as instrumentally valuable, as a way of achieving the greatest possible happiness in society. But perhaps he should have argued that liberty is an intrinsic good, good in itself.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Intrinsic'
     A reaction: If freedom is intrinsically good, does this leave us (as Wolff warned earlier) unable to defend its value? Freedom isn't an intrinsic good for infants, so why should it be so for adults? Good because it brings happiness, or fulfils our nature?
p.125 Utilitarianism values liberty, but guides us on which ones we should have or not have
     Full Idea: Utilitarianism provides an account of what liberties we should and should not have. Mill argues we should be free to compete in trade, but not to use another's property without consent. Thus he sets limits to liberty, while paying it great respect.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Intrinsic'
Ch.1 p.129 The will of the people is that of the largest or most active part of the people
     Full Idea: The will of the people practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.1)
     A reaction: Hence the nicely coined modern phrase 'the silent majority', on whose behalf certain politicians, usually conservative, offer to speak. It is unlikely that the silent majority are actually deeply opposed to the views of the very active part.
Ch.1 p.135 Individuals have sovereignty over their own bodies and minds
     Full Idea: Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.1)
     A reaction: If I should not even think about evil deeds, then neither should you. I would prevent you if I could. I would prevent you from drinking yourself to death, if I could. It is just that intrusions into private lives leads to greater trouble.
Ch.1 p.135 Prevention of harm to others is the only justification for exercising power over people
     Full Idea: The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others; his own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.1)
     A reaction: This is the key idea in Mill's liberalism, though he goes on to offer some qualifications of this absolute prohibition. I don't disagree with this principle, but there may be a lot more indirect harm than we realise (eg. in allowing liberal sex or drugs).
Ch.1 p.136 Liberty arises at the point where people can freely and equally discuss things
     Full Idea: Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.1)
     A reaction: There is a Victorian (and Enlightenment) optimism here which a glimpse of the freedoms of the early twenty-first century might dampen. I doubt if Mill expected British tabloid newspapers, or porn on cable TV. Education and freedom connect.
Ch.1 p.136 Ethics rests on utility, which is the permanent progressive interests of people
     Full Idea: I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of a man as a progressive being.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.1)
     A reaction: Mill, writing in praise of personal liberty, is desperate to introduce a paternalistic element into his politics, and the 'maximisation of happiness' will justify such paternalism, while his basic liberal principle (Idea 7211) won't. Mill's Dilemma.
Ch.1 p.138 True freedom is pursuing our own good, while not impeding others
     Full Idea: The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.1)
     A reaction: This principle will probably lead up a Prisoner's Dilemma cul-de-sac. The only freedom which deserves the name is the collective agreed freedom of a whole community to live well, when citizens volunteer to restrict their individual freedoms.
Ch.2 p.176 The ethics of the Gospel has been supplemented by barbarous Old Testament values
     Full Idea: To extract from the Gospel a body of ethical doctrine, has never been possible withouth eking it out from the Old Testament, that is, from a system elaborate indeed, but in many respects barbarous, and intended only for a barbarous people.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.2)
     A reaction: 'Barbarous' has a quaint Victorian ring to it, but his point is that the surviving teachings of Jesus are very thin and generalised. Christians would do better to expand their implications, than to borrow from the Old Testament.
Ch.4 p.214 The main argument for freedom is that interference with it is usually misguided
     Full Idea: The strongest of all the arguments against the interference of the public with purely personal conduct is that, when it does interfere, the odds are that it interferes wrongly, and in the wrong place.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.4)
     A reaction: This is also a well known objection to capital punishment. Generalised, well established, legal interferences are perhaps more likely to get it right than ad hoc decisions about individuals by individual officials.
Ch.5 p.225 Restraint for its own sake is an evil
     Full Idea: All restraint, qua restraint, is an evil.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: The ultimate justification for this is (presumably) utilitarian, but that would mean that there was nothing wrong with restraint if the person did not mind, or was not aware of the restraint. What is intrinsically wrong with restraint?
Ch.5 p.226 Individuals are not accountable for actions which only concern themselves
     Full Idea: My first maxim is that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This is a key idea of liberalism, and one which communitarians have doubts about (because it is almost impossible to perform an action which is of no interest, in the short or long term, to others). I share these doubts.
Ch.5 p.226 Society can punish actions which it believes to be prejudicial to others
     Full Idea: My second maxim is that for actions that are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and subject to social or legal punishment, if society believes that this is requisite for its protection.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: (wording compressed). The trouble with this would seem to be the possible disagreement between the individual and the society over whether the actions actually are prejudicial to others. It would justify a conservative society in being repressive.
Ch.5 p.229 Blocking entry to an unsafe bridge does not infringe liberty, since no one wants unsafe bridges
     Full Idea: An official could turn a person back from an unsafe bridge without infringeing their liberty; for liberty consists in doing what one desires, and he does not desire to fall into the river.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: Seems fair enough, but it justifies paternalist interference. The tricky one is where the official and the citizen disagree over what the citizen 'truly' desires. Asking people may involve too much time, but it could also involve too much effort.
Ch.5 p.230 It is a crime for someone with a violent disposition to get drunk
     Full Idea: The making himself drunk, in a person whom drunkenness excites to do harm to others, is a crime against others.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This principle (based on knowing your own dispositions) is a very good account of the ethics drunkenness. We have a moral duty to know and remember our own dispositions. Violent people should avoid arguments as well as alcohol.
Ch.5 p.232 Pimping and running a gambling-house are on the border between toleration and restraint
     Full Idea: A person being free to be a pimp, or to keep a gambling-house, lies on the exact boundary line between two principles, of toleration and of restraint.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: Nothing illuminates a philosopher's principles more than for them to specify cases that lie on their borderlines. Both professions seem, unfortunately, to lead people into worse activities, such as violent bullying, or theft. Tricky..
Ch.5 p.239 We need individual opinions and conduct, and State education is a means to prevent that
     Full Idea: Individuality of character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct, involves diversity of education; a general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This strikes me as being particularly true with the advent in Britain of the National Curriculum in the early 1990s. However, if there is a pressure towards conformity in state education, private education is dominated by class and money.
Ch.5 p.242 It is a crime to create a being who lacks the ordinary chances of a desirable existence
     Full Idea: To bestow a life on someone which may be either a curse or a blessing, unless the being on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This is the standard utilitarian attitude to engendering people. I think I have to agree. It is no argument against this to say that we value people with poor life prospects, once they have arrived. Altruism towards children may disguise selfish parents.
Ch.5 p.243 Individuals often do things better than governments
     Full Idea: Government power should be restricted because things are often done better by individuals.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This contains some truth, but it is obvious that innumerable things can be done better by governments, and also (and more importantly) that innumerable other good things might be done by governments which individuals can't be bothered to do.
Ch.5 p.243 Benefits performed by individuals, not by government, help also to educate them
     Full Idea: It is often desirable that beneficial things should be done by individuals, rather than by the government, as a means to their own mental education.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This raises the important danger, which even those on the political left must acknowledge, of the 'nanny state'. It offers a nicely paternalistic, and even patronising reason for giving people freedom, just as a parent might to a child.
Ch.5 p.244 It is evil to give a government any more power than is necessary
     Full Idea: Government interference should be restricted because of the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This would need justification, because it might be replied that individuals should not have unnecessary power either. The main problem is that governments have armies, police and money.
Ch.5 p.246 People who transact their own business will also have the initiative to control their government
     Full Idea: A people accustomed to transacting their own business is certain to be free; it will never let itself be enslaved by any man or body of men because these are able to seize and pull the reins of the central administration.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: He makes reference to Americans. This is an important idea, because it shows that democratic control is not just a matter of elections (which can be abolished or suborned), but is also a characteristic of a certain way of life.
Ch.5 p.248 Aim for the maximum dissemination of power consistent with efficiency
     Full Idea: The safest practical ideal is to aim for the greatest dissemination of power consistent with efficiency.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This is a very nice principle, which I would think desirable within an institution as well as on the scale of the state. I am becoming a fan of Mill's politics. I still say that freedom is an overrated virtue, so efficiency must be underrated.
Ch.5 p.249 The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it
     Full Idea: The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.
     From: John Stuart Mill (On Liberty [1857], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This is a key idea of liberalism, opposed to any idea that we should abandon our own value to that of our state. I agree, but communitarians can subscribe to this too, while disagreeing that maximum freedom is the strategy to follow.
1861 Representative Government
p.97 How people vote should be on public record, so they can be held accountable
     Full Idea: Mill believed in an open vote. People should be held accountable for how they vote, and therefore it should be a matter of public record.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861]) by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 3 'Representative'
     A reaction: Nowadays it is a mantra that voting should be secret, because coercion is an obvious problem, but MPs vote publicly, and are held accountable for their voting records. People like the mafia seem to make open public voting impossible.
p.217-8 p.93 People can only participate in decisions in small communities, so representatives are needed
     Full Idea: Since all cannot, in a community exceeding a single small town, participate personally in any but some very minor portions of the public business, it follows that the ideal type of a perfect government must be representative.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861], p.217-8), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Representative'
     A reaction: Wolff offers Mill as the principal spokesman for representative democracy. It is not only the difficulty of achieving participation, but also the slowness of decision-making. Modern technology may be changing all of this.
p.232 p.95 Direct democracy is inexperience judging experience, and ignorance judging knowledge
     Full Idea: At its best [direct democracy] is inexperience sitting in judgement on experience, ignorance on knowledge.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861], p.232), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 4 'Representative'
     A reaction: Recent experiments have suggested that inexperienced people can become very good at making large decisions, if they are allowed to consult experts when they want to. See Van Reybrouck's 'Against Elections'.
p.299 p.97 Voting is a strict duty, like jury service, and must only be aimed at the public good
     Full Idea: The citizen's vote is not a thing in which he has an option; it has no more to do with his personal wishes than the verdict of a juryman. ...he is bound to give it according to his best and most conscientious opinion of the public good.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Representative Government [1861], p.299), quoted by Jonathan Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Rev) 3 'Representative'
     A reaction: Mill was also concerned that voters might pursue 'class interest' (which they currently do, big time).
1861 Utilitarianism
p.136 Moral rules protecting human welfare are more vital than local maxims
     Full Idea: Moral rules which forbid mankind to hurt one another are more vital to human well-being than any maxims about some department of human affairs; ..though in particular cases a social duty is so important, as to overrule any general maxim of justice.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861]), quoted by Gordon Graham - Eight Theories of Ethics Ch.7
     A reaction: The qualification is realistic, but raises the question of whether an 'act' calculation will always overrule any 'rule'. Maybe rule utilitirianism is just act utilitarianism, but ensuring that the calculations are long-term and extensive. (1871 edn)
p.230 The English believe in the task of annihilating evil for the victory of good
     Full Idea: One continues to believe in good and evil: in such a way that one feels the victory of good and the annihilation of evil to be a task (- this is English; a typical case is that shallow-headed John Stuart Mill).
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861]) by Friedrich Nietzsche - Writings from Late Notebooks 11[148]e
     A reaction: The poor old English try very hard to be clear, sensible, practical and realistic, and get branded as 'shallow' for their pains. Nietzsche was a deeper thinker than Mill, but I would prefer Mill to Heidegger any day.
Ch.1 p.255 Ultimate goods such as pleasure can never be proved to be good
     Full Idea: What can be proved good must be so by being shown to be a means to something admitted to be good without proof. Music is good because it produces pleasure, but what proof is it possible to give that pleasure is good?
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.1)
Ch.2 p.145 Mill's qualities of pleasure is an admission that there are other good states of mind than pleasure
     Full Idea: Mill's introduction of quality of pleasures into the hedonistic calculus is an unconscious departure from hedonism and a half-hearted admission that there are other qualities than pleasantness in virtue of which states of mind are good.
     From: comment on John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.2) by W. David Ross - The Right and the Good §VI
     A reaction: Mill argues that experienced people prefer some pleasures to others, but ducks the question of why they might prefer them. It can only be because they have some further desirable quality on top of the equal amount of pleasure.
Ch.2 p.257 Only pleasure and freedom from pain are desirable as ends
     Full Idea: Pleasure and freedom from pain are the only things desirable as ends.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.2)
Ch.2 p.257 Actions are right if they promote pleasure, wrong if they promote pain
     Full Idea: The Greatest Happiness Principle holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.2)
Ch.2 p.260 Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied
     Full Idea: Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.2)
Ch.2 p.270 Motive shows the worth of the agent, but not of the action
     Full Idea: The motive has nothing to do with the morality of the action, though much with the worth of the agent.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.2)
Ch.3 p.279 Orthodox morality is the only one which feels obligatory
     Full Idea: The customary morality, that which education and opinion have consecrated, is the only one which presents itself to the mind with the feeling of being in itself obligatory.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.3)
Ch.3 p.284 With early training, any absurdity or evil may be given the power of conscience
     Full Idea: There is hardly anything so absurd or so mischievous that it may not, by means of early sanctions and influence, be made to act on the human mind with all the influence of conscience.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.3)
Ch.4 p.288 General happiness is only desirable because individuals desire their own happiness
     Full Idea: No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.4)
Ch.4 p.289 Virtues only have value because they achieve some further end
     Full Idea: Utilitarians believe that actions and dispositions are only virtuous because they promote another end than virtue.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.4)
Ch.4 p.294 The will, in the beginning, is entirely produced by desire
     Full Idea: The will, in the beginning, is entirely produced by desire.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.4)
     A reaction: This is the sort of simplistic psychology that modern philosophers tend to avoid. Personally I am more Kantian. I will and desire that the answer to 3+2=? is 5, simply because it is true. Mill must realise we can will ourselves to desire something.
Ch.5 p.305 No individual has the right to receive our benevolence
     Full Idea: No one has a moral right to our generosity or beneficence, because we are not morally bound to practise those virtues towards any given individual.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.5)
Ch.5 p.306 Rights are a matter of justice, not of benevolence
     Full Idea: Wherever there is a right, the case is one of justice, and not of the virtue of benevolence.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.5)
Ch.5 p.309 A right is a valid claim to society's protection
     Full Idea: When we call anything a person's right, we mean that he has a valid claim on society to protect him in the possession of it.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.5)
Ch.5 p.319 Utilitarianism only works if everybody has a totally equal right to happiness
     Full Idea: The Greatest Happiness Principle is a mere form of empty words unless one person's happiness, supposed equal in degree, is counted for exactly as much as another's (Bentham's "everybody to count for one, nobody for more than one").
     From: John Stuart Mill (Utilitarianism [1861], Ch.5)
1865 Examination of Sir Wm Hamilton's Philosophy
p.107 External objects are permanent possibilities of sensation
     Full Idea: External objects are permanent possibilities of sensation.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Examination of Sir Wm Hamilton's Philosophy [1865]), quoted by Michael Williams - Problems of Knowledge Ch.9
p.243 p.215 I judge others' feeling by analogy with my body and behaviour
     Full Idea: I conclude other humans have feelings like me because they have bodies like mine (which I know in my case to be antecedent to feelings), and because they exhibit acts and outwards signs which I know in my own case to be caused by feelings.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Examination of Sir Wm Hamilton's Philosophy [1865], p.243), quoted by Keith T. Maslin - Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind 8.2
     A reaction: It is hard to see anything further that can be added to the 'other minds' question. Behaviour is highly relevant (imagine meeting a human who talked like a robot), but so are bodies (imagine a tin box that talked like Marilyn Monroe).
1870 Autobiography
p.43 Mill wondered if he would be happy if all his aims were realised, and answered no
     Full Idea: Mill, in his crisis of 1827, asked himself whether he would be happy if all his objects in life were realised, and had to answer that he would not.
     From: report of John Stuart Mill (Autobiography [1870]) by Simon Critchley - Continental Philosophy - V. Short Intro Ch.3
     A reaction: The reply is either that happiness is in the striving, or that his aims in life were wrong, or that happiness is impossible. It seems to contradict Kant's definition (Idea 1452).
1874 Nature and Utility of Religion
p.119 Belief that an afterlife is required for justice is an admission that this life is very unjust
     Full Idea: The necessity of redressing the balance [of injustice] is deemed one of the strongest arguments for another life after death, which amounts to an admission that the order of things in this life is often an example of injustice, not justice.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874])
     A reaction: It certainly seems that an omnipotent God could administer swift justice in this life. If the whole point is that we need freedom of will, then why is justice administered at a much later date? The freedom seems to be illusory.
p.115 p.115 Nature dispenses cruelty with no concern for either mercy or justice
     Full Idea: All of this [cruel killing] nature does with the most supercilious disregard both of mercy and of justice, emptying her shafts upon the best and noblest indifferently with the meanest and worst
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.115)
     A reaction: The existence of an afterlife at least offers an opportunity to rectify any injustice, but that hardly meets the question of why there was injustice in the first place. It would be odd if it actually is justice, but none of us can see why that is so.
p.115 p.115 Killing is a human crime, but nature kills everyone, and often with great tortures
     Full Idea: Killing, the most criminal act recognised by human laws, nature does once to every being that lives, and frequently after protracted tortures such as the greatest know monsters purposely inflicted on their living fellow creatures
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.115)
     A reaction: We certainly don't condemn lions for savaging gazelles, but the concept of a supreme mind controlling nature forces the question. Theology needs consistency between human and divine morality, and the supposed derivation of the former from the latter.
p.116 p.116 Hurricanes, locusts, floods and blight can starve a million people to death
     Full Idea: Nature often takes the means by which we live. A single hurricane, a flight of locusts, or an inundation, or a trifling chemical change in an edible root, starve a million people.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.116)
     A reaction: [second sentence compressed] The 'edible root' is an obvious reference to the Irish potato famine. Some desertification had human causes, but these are telling examples.
p.116 p.116 Nature makes childbirth a miserable experience, often leading to the death of the mother
     Full Idea: In the clumsy provision which nature has made for the perpetual renewal of animal life, human being ever comes into the world but another human being is literally stretched on the rack for hours or day, not unfrequently issuing in death.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.116)
     A reaction: This is a very powerful example, which is rarely cited in modern discussions.
p.116 p.116 We don't get a love of 'order' from nature - which is thoroughly chaotic
     Full Idea: Even the love of 'order' which is thought to be a following of the ways of nature is in fact a contradiction of them. All which people are accustomed to deprecate as 'disorder' is precisely a counterpart of nature's ways.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.116)
     A reaction: The Greeks elevated the idea that the cosmos was orderly, but almost entirely based on the regular movement of the planets. They turned a blind eye to the messy bits of nature. As you magnify nature, order and chaos seem to alternate.
p.117 p.117 Evil comes from good just as often as good comes from evil
     Full Idea: If good frequently comes out of evil, the converse fact, evil coming out of good, is equally common.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.117)
     A reaction: Mill surmises that on the whole good comes from good, and evil from evil, but the point is that the evidence doesn't favour the production of increased good.
p.119 p.119 No necessity ties an omnipotent Creator, so he evidently wills human misery
     Full Idea: If a Creator is assumed to be omnipotent, if he bends to a supposed necessity, he himself makes the necessity which he bends to. If the maker of the world can all that he will, he wills misery, and there is no escape from the conclusion.
     From: John Stuart Mill (Nature and Utility of Religion [1874], p.119)
     A reaction: If you add that the Creator is supposed to be perfectly benevolent, you arrive at the paradox which Mackie spells out. Is the correct conclusion that God exists, and is malevolent? Mill doesn't take that option seriously.