Rules and Right in Mill

Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (4):723-745 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Recent scholarship on John Stuart Mill’s moral theory has settled on the view that he is committed to a form of rule utilitarianism. I argue that this consensus is mistaken. Mill’s explicit account of practical rules is incompatible with rule utilitarianism but consistent with sophisticated act utilitarianism. I also examine the direct, textual evidence cited by rule utilitarian interpreters, arguing that it is consistent with the act utilitarian account of practical rules. Finally, I argue that two systematic considerations cited by rule utilitarian interpreters—Mill’s analysis of “wrong” in terms of the appropriateness of punishment, and his account of supererogation—also do not require a rule utilitarian reading.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,400

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Mill's theory of moral rules.Gerald F. Gaus - 1980 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 58 (3):265 – 279.
Two Concepts of Rule Utilitarianism.Rex Martin - 2008 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (2):227-255.
Is Mill a Rule-utilitarian?Peilun Zhang - 1999 - Philosophy and Culture 26 (7):632-647.
Rules and Their Reasons: Mill on Morality and Instrumental Rationality.Ben Eggleston - 2011 - In Ben Eggleston, Dale E. Miller & David Weinstein (eds.), John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life. Oxford University Press. pp. 71-93.
Utilitarianism.John Stuart Mill - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Is Mill an Illiberal Utilitarian?Jonathan Riley - 2015 - Ethics 125 (3):781-796.
J. S. Mill's Utilitarianism.Christopher Alan Hoffman - 1994 - Dissertation, Washington University
Optimal Moral Rules and Supererogatory Acts.I. Mill’S. Extraordinary Maximizing Utilitarianism - 2011 - In Ben Eggleston, Dale E. Miller & D. Weinstein (eds.), John Stuart Mill and the Art of Life. Oxford University Press.
John Stuart Mill.[author unknown] - 1986 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 20:169-169.
Mill's Utilitarianism: Critical Essays.David Lyons (ed.) - 1997 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.


Added to PP

59 (#203,042)

6 months
9 (#96,348)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Piers Norris Turner
Ohio State University

Citations of this work

The absolutism problem in On Liberty.Piers Norris Turner - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (3):322-340.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references