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Mill

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 18 May 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the great nineteenth century political philosopher John Stuart Mill. He believed that, 'The true philosophy is the marriage of poetry and logic'. He was one of the first thinkers to argue that a social theory must engage with ideas of culture and the internal life. He used Wordsworth to inform his social theory, he was a proto feminist and his treatise On Liberty is one of the sacred texts of liberalism.

J S Mill believed that action was the natural articulation of thought. He battled throughout his life for social reform and individual freedom and was hugely influential in the extension of the vote. Few modern discussions on race, birth control, the state and human rights have not been influenced by Mill's theories.

How did Mill's utilitarian background shape his political ideas? Why did he think Romantic literature was significant to the rational structure of society? On what grounds did he argue for women's equality? And how did his notions of the individual become central to modern social theory?

With A C Grayling, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London; Janet Radcliffe Richards, Reader in Bioethics at University College London; Alan Ryan, Professor of Politics at Oxford University.

  • Further Reading

    J.S. Mill, On Liberty

    J.S. Mill, Autobiography

    John Skorupski, Why Read Mill Today? (Routledge, 2005)

    Alan Ryan, J. S. Mill (Routledge, 1975)

    Alan Ryan's new Penguin Classics edition of On Liberty and The Subjection of Women (Penguin Classics, 2006)

    Nichola Capaldi, John Stuart Mill (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

    Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Ethics of Identity (Princeton University Press, 2005)

    Janet Radcliffe Richards, The Sceptical Feminist, A Philosophical Enquiry (Penguin, 1980)

Credits

Presenter
Melvyn BRAGG
Producer
Natasha MAW

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Featured in...

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