Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This project began as an investigation into the extent to which the concepts of“ virtue” and “human character” serve as features of John Stuart Mill’s normative ethical theory as well as of his political theory. As it turns out, each of these two concepts is essential to both of these theories. Moreover, this investigation has revealed features of Mill’s theory of utilitarianism which, heretofore, had not been identified by any of Mill’s commentators, but which serve to shed a significant amount of light on some of the problems and mysteries which have been associated, traditionally, with Mill’s theory of utilitarianism and with his liberal political theory. The most important revelation of this investigation into the role of virtue and that of human character in Mill’s theory of utilitarianism is a new and unique interpretation of Mill’s conception of what he calls the “principle of utility” as well as a new and unique interpretation of Mill’s comprehensive theory of utilitarianism, according to which there are no fewer than three intimately related utilitarian principles, as explicitly acknowledged by Mill. For, a close and careful reading of the works of Mill, which are relevant to his comprehensive theory of utilitarianism, reveals Mill’s consistent belief in a hierarchy of three distinct utilitarian principles: “the principle of utility” (as the utilitarian principle of axiology) provides the theoretical foundation for what Mill calls “the ultimate principle of teleology” (as the utilitarian principle of practical reason), which, in turn, serves as the basis on which all human actions are to be pursued, in accordance with what Mill calls “the utilitarian theory of morality” (as the utilitarian principle of morality and of prudence). The most fundamental reason for misinterpretations and misunderstandings of Mill’s comprehensive theory of utilitarianism is that too many commentators have confused and/or conflated two, if not all three, of these distinct, but intimately related principles, the result of which has been a significant number of erroneous charges of incoherence and fallacious reasoning by such commentators against Mill.


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