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?
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
Proper names are just labels for persons or objects, and the meaning is the object
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Numbers / o. Units
Numbers must be assumed to have identical units, as horses are equalised in 'horse-power'
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 3. Axioms for Number / a. Axioms for numbers
The only axioms needed are for equality, addition, and successive numbers
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 4. 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
If two black and two white objects in practice produced five, what colour is the fifth one?
Mill mistakes particular applications as integral to arithmetic, instead of general patterns
There are no such things as numbers in the abstract
Things possess the properties of numbers, as quantity, and as countable parts
Numbers have generalised application to entities (such as bodies or sounds)
'2 pebbles and 1 pebble' and '3 pebbles' name the same aggregation, but different facts
Different parcels made from three pebbles produce different actual sensations
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
Empirical theories of arithmetic ignore zero, limit our maths, and need probability to get started
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 5. Numbers as Adjectival
Numbers are a very general property of objects
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
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
Mill's methods (Difference,Agreement,Residues,Concomitance,Hypothesis) don't nail induction
The whole theory of induction rests on causes
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / a. Explanation
Surprisingly, empiricists before Mill ignore explanation, which seems to transcend experience
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / d. Lawlike explanations
Explanation is fitting of facts into ever more general patterns of regularity
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / f. Causal explanations
Causal inference is by spotting either Agreements or Differences
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
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 / D. Concepts / 6. Abstract Concepts / a. Abstract concepts
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 / C. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
The will, in the beginning, is entirely produced by desire
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 5. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
Mill wondered if he would be happy if all his aims were realised, and answered no
22. Metaethics / B. Basis of Ethics / 5. Moral Responsibility
It is a crime for someone with a violent disposition to get drunk
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 3. Intuitionism
With early training, any absurdity or evil may be given the power of conscience
22. Metaethics / D. Consequentialism / 1. Consequentialism
Motive shows the worth of the agent, but not of the action
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 / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
Why couldn't all rational beings accept outrageously immoral rules of conduct?
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 1. Utilitarianism
Actions are right if they promote pleasure, wrong if they promote pain
Ethics rests on utility, which is the permanent progressive interests of people
The English believe in the task of annihilating evil for the victory of good
Mill's qualities of pleasure is an admission that there are other good states of mind than pleasure
Utilitarianism only works if everybody has a totally equal right to happiness
23. Ethics / E. Utilitarianism / 2. Ideal of Pleasure
Only pleasure and freedom from pain are desirable as ends
Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied
Ultimate goods such as pleasure can never be proved to be good
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. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 3. Abortion
It is a crime to create a being who lacks the ordinary chances of a desirable existence
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Freedom
Individuals have sovereignty over their own bodies and minds
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / a. Natural rights
Rights are a matter of justice, not of benevolence
No individual has the right to receive our benevolence
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will
The will of the people is that of the largest or most active part of the people
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / c. Despotism
It is evil to give a government any more power than is necessary
25. Society / B. The State / 6. Government / a. Government
Individuals often do things better than governments
25. Society / B. The State / 7. Changing the State / b. Devolution
Aim for the maximum dissemination of power consistent with efficiency
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
People who transact their own business will also have the initiative to control their government
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 6. Liberalism
Prevention of harm to others is the only justification for exercising power over people
The main argument for freedom is that interference with it is usually misguided
The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights
A right is a valid claim to society's protection
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / c. Free speech
Liberty arises at the point where people can freely and equally discuss things
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
True freedom is pursuing our own good, while not impeding others
Restraint for its own sake is an evil
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
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 4. Right to Punish / a. Right to punish
Society can punish actions which it believes to be prejudicial to others
25. Society / E. State Functions / 4. Welfare provision
Benefits performed by individuals, not by government, help also to educate them
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / b. Aims of education
We need individual opinions and conduct, and State education is a means to prevent that
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 2. 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 / 2. Particular Causation / d. Selecting the cause
The strict cause is the total positive and negative conditions which ensure the consequent
Causes and conditions are not distinct, because we select capriciously from among them
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 3. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
Causation is just invariability of succession between every natural fact and a preceding fact
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 3. 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
In Mill's 'Method of Agreement' cause is the common factor in a range of different cases
In Mill's 'Method of Difference' the cause is what stops the effect when it is removed
Mill's regularity theory of causation is based on an effect preceded by a conjunction of causes
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?
29. Religion / C. Monotheistic Religion / 3. Christianity / a. Christianity
The ethics of the Gospel has been supplemented by barbarous Old Testament values
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 4. Natural Evil
When we desire and believe in the possibility of justice in another world, we are admitting the injustice of this world
If human beings performed the horrible actions that nature performs, they would be rightly punished
The only reasonable conclusion from the evidence is that God desires human misery
Natural disasters like famine can't be divine justice because their consequences are too indiscriminate
It is especially unfair that nature rewards those with benefits (health) and hurts those with disadvantages (poverty)