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Conflicting Principles or Completing Counterparts? J. S. Mill on Political Economy and the Equality of Women

  • Michele Green (a1)
Abstract

In the 1970s feminist scholars rediscovered J. S. Mill's writings on sexual equality. The new feminist appraisal confronted traditional Mill scholarship which had tended either to neglect Mill's writings on women or to concentrate on Harriet Taylor's influence on Mill's views on sexual equality. But even the most cursory review of the writings of feminist scholars reveals a lack of consensus.

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1 This article was originally presented as a paper at the International Society for Utilitarian Studies Conference, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, April 1992. I would like to thank the participants at that session, especially Prof. Wendy Donner, for their thought-provoking comments. This article has benefited from the criticisms and suggestions of the anonymous referee at Utilitas, as well as those of John M. Robson and Sydney Eisen. I am also grateful to Michael V. White whose work on the place of women in Jevons's political economy has been most helpful to my own work.

2 See the opening remarks to Mill J. S., ‘Women's Suffrage [1]”, Public and Parliamentary Speeches, eds. Robson John M. and Kinzer Bruce, 2 vols., Toronto, 1988, Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, xxix. 373; Kent Susan Kingsley, Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860–1914, Princeton, 1987, pp. 188–91; Millet Kate, Sexual Politics, New York, 1970, pp. 96, 103; Mill John Stuart and Mill Harriet Taylor, Essays on Sex Equality, ed. Rossi Alice, Chicago, 1970, pp. 58–9; Axelrod Rise, ‘Argument and Strategy in Mill's The Subjection of Women”, The Victorian Newsletter, xlvi (1974), 1014.

3 Lewis Jane, Women in England, 1870–1950: Sexual Divisions and Social Change, Bloomington, 1984, p. 88; Tulloch Gail, Mill and Sexual Equality, Boulder, 1989, pp. 62–3; Okin Susan Muller, Women in Western Political Thought, Princeton, 1979, pp. 226, 228–9; Annas Julia, ‘Mill and The Subjection of Women”, Philosophy, lii (1977), 185–90.

4 Urbinati Nadia, ‘John Stuart Mill on Androgyny and Ideal Marriage”, Political Theory, xix (1991), 639–40.

5 Himmelfarb Gertrude, On Liberty and Liberalism, New York, 1974, pp. 188–92; Annas , pp. 180–3. A most recent analysis of the relationship between Mill's views on political economy and women's equality, which links Mill's inadequate commitment to women's equality to his liberalism, can be found in Pujol Michele A., Feminism and Anti-Feminism in Early Economic Thought, Aldershot, 1992, pp. 1536. For her analysis Pujol draws on the Marxist critique in Krouse Richard, ‘Patriarchal Liberalism and Beyond: From John Stuart Mill to Harriet Taylor”, The Family in Political Thought, ed. Elshtain Jean Bethke, Amherst, 1982, pp. 161–71.

6 Himmelfarb , pp. 173–5; Tulloch , pp. 75, 138–9; Urbinati , 631–2.

7 Mill John Stuart, On Liberty, Essays on Politics and Society, ed. Robson John M., 2 vols., Toronto, 1977, CW, xviii. 224.

8 Held Virginia, ‘Mothering Versus Contract”, Beyond Self-Interest, ed. Mansbridge Jane, Chicago, 1990, p. 294; Urbinati , 635–6. Also relevant here is Krouse , pp. 161–71.

9 Mill John Stuart, ‘On Marriage”, Essays on Equality, Law, and Education, ed. Robson John M., Toronto, 1984, CW, xxi. 42–3; Mill , The Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 298.

10 Collini Stefan, ‘Introduction”, CW, xxi. p. xxxiv.

11 On the central role of sympathy in Mill's revision of Benthamism, see Green Michele, ‘Sympathy, Self-Interest and the Revision of Benthamism: The Development of John Stuart Mill's Moral and Social Philosophy, 1826–1840”, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, York University, 1988.

12 Mill , A System of Logic Ratiocinative and Inductive, ed. Robson John M., Toronto, 1973, CW, viii. 889–94, 898900; Mill , Autobiography, Autobiography and Literary Essays, eds. Robson John M. and Stillinger Jack, Toronto, 1981, CW, i. 165–9, 177.

13 Mill , ‘English National Character”, Newspaper Writings, ed. Robson Ann P. and Robson John M., Toronto, 1986, CW, xxiii. 721; Mill , ‘Civilization”, CW, xviii. 119, 125–30; Mill , The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill, ed. Mineka Francis E., Toronto, 1963, CW, xii. 31–2.

14 Green Michele, ‘Sympathy in Equality: J. S. Mill's Argument for Women's Equality”, The Victorian Studies Association Newsletter, xlvii (1991), 914.

15 Mill , The Later Letters of John Stuart Mill, ed. Mineka Francis E. and Lindley Dwight N., Toronto, 1972, CW, xvi. 138; Mill , ‘Women's Suffrage [3]”, CW, xxix. 402.

16 Mill , Autobiography, CW, i. 107.

17 Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 285, 271–2; Robson John M., ‘Rational Animals and Others”, James and John Stuart Mill: Papers of the Centenary Conference, ed. Robson John M. and Laine Michael, Toronto, 1976, pp. 148–9; Mill , The Early Draft of John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, ed. Stillinger Jack, Illinois, 1961, p. 171.

18 Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 289.

19 Ibid., 288–9.

20 Ibid., 324–5, 293.

21 Mill , ‘The Admission of Women to the Electoral Franchise”, CW, xxviii. 155–8; Mill , ‘Women's Suffrage [3]”, CW, xxix. 404–5; Mill , Later Letters, CW, xvii. 1642; Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 290.

22 Mill , ‘Admission of Women”, CW, xxviii. 158.

23 Mill , Autobiography, CW, i. 243; Mill , The Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. p. xci; Schwartz Pedro, The New Political Economy of J. S. Mill, London, 1972, pp. i, 4, 193; Hollander Samuel, The Economics of John Stuart Mill, 2 vols., Toronto, 1985, i. 185.

24 Mill , ‘On the Definition of Political Economy”, Essays on Economics and Society, ed. Robson John M., Toronto, 1967, CW, iv. 330–1; Hollander , i. 68–9.

25 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 124, 127–8.

26 Pujol , p. 27.

27 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, iii. 768. (emphasis my own).

28 Hollander , ii. 820–1.

29 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, iii. 759–61.

30 Mill , Autobiography, CW, i. 107–9.

31 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 343; Hollander , ii. 888–9.

32 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 351–2.

33 J. A. and Banks Olive, Feminism and Family Planning in Victorian England, Liverpool, 1965, pp. 16, 24.

34 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 372.

35 Ibid., 351–2.

36 Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 285; Banks , pp. 24–5.

37 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 372; Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 289; Mill , Later Letters, CW, xiv. 88–9.

38 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, iii. 765–6.Smith Kenneth, The Malthusian Controversy, London, 1951, pp. 168–9 outlines William Thompson's rather similar views in his An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth Most Conducive to Human Happiness (1827).

39 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, iii. 765; Ibid., CW, ii. 394–5.

40 Ibid., CW, iii. 765; Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 298.

41 Collini Stefan, Winch Donald, Burrow John, That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in Nineteenth Century Intellectual History, Cambridge, 1983, p. 136; Mill , ‘Definition of Political Economy”, CW, iv. 322.

42 Hollander , i. 95.

43 Mill , ‘De Tocqueville on Democracy in America”, Essays on Politics and Society, ed. Robson John M., Toronto, 1977, CW, xviii. 168–9; Hollander , ii. 766.

44 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, iii. 768.

45 Ibid., 754.

46 Ibid., 768–9, 792, 775–94.

47 Ibid., 708; Robson John M., The Improvement of Mankind: The Social and Political Thought of John Stuart Mill, Toronto, 1968, p. 264.

48 Mill , Autobiography, CW, i. 239, 241.

49 Ibid., 239, 241; Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 205, and 203 for Mill's distinction between Communism and Socialism.

50 Mill , Autobiography, CW, i. 175; Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 209.

51 Ibid., 206.

52 Ibid., 210.

53 Mill , ‘On Marriage”, CW, xxi. 42–3; Tulloch , p. 83.

54 Mill , ‘Nature”, Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society, ed. Robson John M., Toronto, 1969, CW, x. 374, 393–6; Robson , ‘Rational Animals and Others”, p. 153.

55 Mill , Principles of Political Economy, CW, ii. 393–4.

56 Mill , ‘On Marriage”, CW, xxi. 43–4; Urbanati , 640–1; Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 298.

57 Mill , ‘On Marriage”, CW, xxi. 44.

58 Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 278, 293.

59 Ibid., 294–5, 333–6; Collini, Introduction, CW, xxi. p. xxxivxxxv.

60 Mill , Subjection of Women, CW, xxi. 294.

61 There are some interesting similarities here with Krouse's Marxist critique of Mill's views on women. See Krouse , pp. 170–1.

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Utilitas
  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
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