John Stuart Mill: The Mathematics of Happiness

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What’s it all about?

From birth, John Stuart Mill was raised to be a sort of philosophical machine – a prodigious human calculator in the service of utilitarianism. But after experiencing a breakdown as a young man, he began to try to reconcile different forms of value with the austere moral mathematics of his education. In the process he gave us two of the defining texts of both utilitarianism and liberalism – but are these things as compatible as Mill thought?

What will we cover?

We’ll look at the background to utilitarianism (including Bentham, Mill’s godfather), Mill’s biography and education, his utilitarianism, his theory of higher and lower pleasures, and his famous Liberal Harm Principle.

Who will be teaching?

stokesDec2015headPatrick Stokes is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Deakin University. He’s a regular contributor to the New Philosopher, the Conversation, and a media commentator on philosophy. His most recent book is “The Naked Self: Kierkegaard and Personal Identity” (Oxford, 2015)