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CONSEQUENCE IN JOHN STUART MILL'S THEORY OF A PUBLIC BY GREGORY GRANAGHAN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Political Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under t he sponsorship of Professor Joesph Mink, ph.D Sarasota, Florida May, 2011
T ABLE OF C ONTENTS .................... iv Introduction ................................................................................................................ ........ 1 Chapter I: John Stuart Mill, Liberty and Harm..................................... .............. .................8 ............................10 .............................. 13 ................................................. ..............................16 ....................21 Chapter II: Chapter II: Harm and Consequence..................... ............. ..............................29 .............................31 .............................34 ............................40 Dewey's Individual and Social Good......................................... ............................45 ............................... .............................52 .................53 ..... .............................55 ............................60 ............................6 7 .............................76
ii A CKNOWLEDGMENTS The completion of this project very much depended upon the constant efforts and support of my sponsor. I wish to express here my gratitude to him, as well as to my committee, for the hours spent on my thesis. Thank you. And of course, thank you to my family, especially to my Mother and Father for everything they have given me, and for all they have helped me to accomplish this year and every year before. Finally, to all the friends who encouraged me through this semester, and to those who played a role in the person I have become, thank you.
iii CONSEQUENCE IN JOHN STUART MILL'S THEORY OF A PUBL IC Gregory Granaghan New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and his notable contributions to liberal thought: the tyranny of the majority and the harm principle, have often been over simplified as notions of leaving individu als to themselves. This thesis argues that Mill's work has a much more nuanced argument about the relationship between the individual and the public. I do so first by demonstrating the limits to individual freedoms as more than just liberty up until the po int where one causes harm to another. Second, I show how Mill's confrontational civility, his argument of intellectual diversity and debate in a public sphere is about interaction, not isolation. In both of these ideas we find individual and social goods t o the exercise of liberty. From this redemption of Mill, I show how John Dewey has taken up Mill's project of constructing the proper relationship between the individual and the public. I argue that Dewey and Mill share the same fear of a lack of interacti on and communication, and that for both, harm decides the shape of a public. Where Dewey breaks from Mill is in his use of harm as a formative principle, consequence for Dewey actually shapes publics, instead of as a responsive principle as it is for Mill.
iv Both Mill and Dewey rely on communication for their liberal publics to organize. The last chapter of this thesis demonstrates how this public discourse could be un consequential. I introduce a structuralist argument through Thorstein Veblen and Pierre Bo urdieu and argue that through distinction, and the naturalization of tastes, individuals will come to see their real differences as perceived differences. That consequential interaction will not occur, the debate over the proper organization or the good of society will not take place because we retreat into our own habitus. Joseph Mink, Ph.D Political Science
1 I NTRODUCTION When John Stuart Mill writes On Liberty in 1859, the focus of tyranny has shifted from a monarch over their subjects to an established public over itself. It is no longer the case that a transcendent authority can impose its will upon a peopl e. The concern instead becomes more complicated, that a majority of the people will tyrannize the minority. Public opinion, the truths and facts of a culture, become dominant, leading to a stagnation of social progress. In the absence of a King, habit and custom take on this transcendent authority. Mill writes On Liberty in response to this problem of liberty: the liberty of an individual within a liberal democracy. Our fear of democracy is not first the expansion of suffrage, or egalitarian commitments. Mi ll's practical political commitment is not anti democratic, it is not a fear of democracy as much as it is a fear of the democratization of moral and intellectual authority. I say this is a problem, but it is not a new problem. For Mill, history provides a can hardly be too often reminded, that there was once a man named Socrates, between whom the legal authorities and public opinion of his time, there took place a memorable On Liber ty p. 29). Socrates, for his impiety and immorality, was found guilty by the judicial convictions of his countrymen, and sentenced to death. Impiety in denying the gods recognized by Athens, and immorality for corrupting the minds of the youth. Mill notes benefactor, they mistook him for the exact contrary of what he was, and treated him a s
2 that prodigy of impiety, which they themselves are now held to be, for their treatment of This memorable collision reveals Mill's larger critique of democracy, but it also leads to the more mechanical points of this argument: this large id ea, that democracy can lead to a tyranny of the majority, that conformity of opinion leads to moral stagnation. not worse than men commonly are, but rather the contrary; men who possessed in a full, or somewhat more than full measure, articulation by Mill is that the good state is one that creates an unobstructed sphere in which the individual can make experiments in living. Th e mechanics of this idea come out in the two specific charges brought against Socrates. The first charge, impiety, reveals the need for a freedom of thought and expression. Society never has a right to silence an opinion, this is not just to protect the li berty of the individual, silencing opinions can have a profound negative affect on the whole of society. Mill concludes from this history that Socrates, the gadfly, was doing a service for the Athenian public. This harm to society can be understood in thre e ways, a silenced opinion could have been true, it could even if not accurate have contained some truth; and last that even the belief which has to it no truth at all should be allowed to be expressed if only for its potential to interact with other idea s and force us to confront and justify why we disagree with this particular one. The value of every living idea is their interaction, disagreement prevents ideas from becoming dead dogma. This interaction is the second charge. Socrates as a corrupter of th e youth. If the first charge, impiety, is a
3 reflective idea, about Socrates himself not believing in the gods of the city, the second is one of communication, and about a harm, Socrates sharing his beliefs, debating the dominant opinions, and the public id entifying it as harmful that he should put these ideas in the minds of the youth. Socrates is presented in On Liberty as Mill's hero of liberalism. Mill seems to be fully articulating a liberal concern. However, Utilitarianism and On Liberty must be consid ered together. It is only together that these texts complete an argument against the problem of democracy and of traditional structures of morality. His theory of liberty makes an argument against the tyranny of popular opinion, and creates a positivist ar gument for a free, reflective, civil minded public; while his theory of utility justifies this. Mill's notion of intellectual diversity, communication, and experiment in living is not ultimately instrumental. We can at first read Mill as a theorist of comm unicative rationality, an idea that the good of liberty is that it provides the space in which agents can communicate freely, and rationally. That liberty provides the condition for communication which frees the individual from custom and habit, and that i nteraction between these citizens who are able to reason with each other gives rise to a shared meaning. Rather, that truth comes about through the consequence of communication. But this is not a complete reading. Mill argues two things that are contrary t o this belief. First, he does not stick with this instrumentality of communication. Mill says that a society should reach uncontested truths, and in some cases we can judge the progress of a society by how many of these truths they have established. Second he ascribes an intrinsic good to certain decisions. Specifically, Utilitarianism establishes that good of this mechanism of interaction is rooted in happiness. Mill, in his articulation of the greatest happiness
4 principle, bases the value of all choices and actions in the capacity for them to make the greatest number of people happy. In response to Jeremy Bentham and a critique of utilitarian moralities as hedonistic, Mill again turns to our hero, Socrates. He states that happiness is not about immediate pleasures, or psychological hedonism, but rather about Utilitarianism p. 140). In this, we are given a hi erarchy of enjoyment. The moral worth of an action in Mill's thought is not its conformity to popular conception, but its capacity to make the most number of people happy. And, this concept of happiness, the unit by which Mill asserts we should judge a dec ision, I will show is a notion of dignity. The higher pleasures, those of the mind, will bring us more happiness than the lower ones, because they have attached to them virtue. It is from this stance that I frame the argument of this project. In chapter on e I challenge the reading of Mill as a theorist of liberal individualism, one that frames as his first principle the condition of liberty. What Mill presents is a highly social idea of the individual, and his logic of liberty is more complicated and subtle than just leaving the individual to her or himself. To do this, I explore Mill's two goods of liberty, the individual and social benefit. First, the good of liberty is a position from which an individual can explore their mental faculties. This idea that the unexamined life is not worth living. Second, society should constantly be experimenting with modes of living. Next I discuss the limits Mill provides to the sphere of liberty, through his three distinct categories; separating freedom of thought and exp ression, freedom of action, and the limit of the sovereignty of the individual over themselves. From this I provide a more detailed discussion of what the good means for John Mill, focusing particularly on the
5 idea of individual human flourishing within th e social context, introducing Mill's use of happiness and dignity. Finally, I demonstrate a tension in Mill's harm principle and suggest an interpretation or a reworking of this idea as a concept of consequence. Chapter two brings John Dewey into conversa tion with Mill's harm principle. I establish that although Dewey sees himself as taking up this project of liberal theory and building upon it, he also provides a critique of it. The first of these critiques is his treatment of ideological individualism. H e argues that there was never this idea of the naked individual. Individualism as it became associated with democracy as a political movement was a response to the previous organization of society. Building on this, Dewey critiques theories of publics whic h rely on a moment of authorship. Instead he gives a logic of association and a theory of publics made through a recognition of shared consequences. When we compare John Dewey's notions of consequence and association to Mill's harm principle, we no longer have to settle with Mill's defense of liberties while recognizing a social obligation; rather, the harm principle can be read as a mechanism for creating the public itself. Mill's notion of harm that we have liberty up to the point where it causes another harm can be read as a simple notion of limiting, of negative liberty. John Dewey reasons that it is through a process of communicating, and discovering consequences, that a public recognizes itself as a public. A public is not made through political auth orship; the public presupposes this act. When a body recognizes a common concern, whether that be that the actions of the monarch are consequential to a shared experience or that drunkenness is a social problem, the public already exists. I then bring Mill and Dewey back together on the idea that, although they mean something
6 different by liberty, they both see it as an individual and social good, and they both base this in mechanism of interaction or civility. The last chapter of this thesis questions whet her this kind of communicative interaction, which Mill and Dewey both insist is necessary for Mill as a responsive notion and for Dewey as a formative notion will be consequential. Rather, I clarify what Mill's theory of diversity and interaction means as an idea of civility, and then ask if this mechanism will lead to the active debate over the good life. I introduce two authors whose theory demonstrates an inconsequentiality to this mechanism of the free interaction of beliefs. First, I use Thorstein V eblen to explain how Mill's classification of goods the hierarchization of styles of life, is about an idea of distinction, instead of disagreement. Then building on this idea I introduce Pierre Bourdieu and the naturalization of tastes. The kind of conve rsation that specifically Mill needs to happen in order to justify his relationship between the individual and the public becomes problematic. Instead of having a free interaction of ideas and tastes, we have instead the transmission of class and status. M ore importantly however, tastes become perceived as so natural to our idea of self that I suggest we can not imagine a mechanism through which society can respect the liberty of the individual and at the same time impress upon them this hierarchy Mill's g ood. The importance of this question is more than just defending a reading of Mill that differs from the superficial presentation of Mill as the champion of liberal individualism. Rather than being only a thinker concerned with leaving people to themselves and defending the one from the tyranny of the many, Mill offers a highly social argument of
7 consequence. This project raises the question of the value of freedom. Liberty is not as simple as freedom up until the point when an action infringes upon another 's liberty. Mill develops a social project, an argument for a free space in which the individual, uncoerced and unmolested, can develop and explore the means to individual human flourishing. Without throwing away the vocabulary of freedom and liberty compl etely, this project brackets John Stuart Mill's theory of a social good and explores his idea in the context of John Dewey and philosophical pragmatism, and finally examines whether a mechanism based in communicative interaction might be inherently limited by the nature of distinction and the judgment of tastes.
8 C HAPTER I: J OHN S TUART M ILL L IBERTY AND H ARM When I argue that John Mill's theory of liberty is not a typically conceived of liberal notion, it is not our intention to ignore the ways in which it is. Mill's Harm Principle and his argument against the tyranny of the majority and of government help to define liberal thought. In his theoretical project, there is undeniably the position that o themselves is always better, caeteris paribus, On Liberty, p. 106). In his social argument, the ways in which we relate to each other as individuals, we are told that we should be free to choose for ourselves. That unmolested, the individual should be free to explore their own ends, free from dominant beliefs and opinions, and from formal constraints. In these formal constraints, Mill's political theory, here too we recognize a liberal fear. That the more unnecessary power we give to government, the more restrictive and interfering it will become. In this, we can not deny the reading of Mill as a theorist of individual liberty. Nor do I intend to, however a more intimate analysis of Mill's contribution to liberal philosophy reveals something more nuanced than just this idea of leaving each individual to themselves. Even in his most mechanical points, such as limiting the role of be everywhere alik e. With individuals and voluntary associations, on the contrary, there On Liberty, p. 122). Rather, we must ask to what end freedom is a good for Mill. Here I establish that liberty is not Mill' s first condition, but that instead he defines the good of freedom through a utilitarian morality.
9 We do not get to this point all at once. This chapter will introduce J.S. Mill's notion of liberty by examining a tension between the individual and society This tension can be understood as between individual ism, the aspects of life which concern the individual alone, their beliefs their choices, and a social good, a project which we share. The simplest way to get at this tension between the self and the so cial is by discussing where Mill sees a limit to freedom as being justified. He presents a more sophisticated argument which points to liberty not being about the individual alone. Limiting the freedom of the individual is not just a harm to the self, but to the larger social body. From this, we also must acknowledge that the benefit of liberty is not just a freedom for the individual alone. When I discussed Mill's account of Socrates, it was clear that these two ideas were being considered. The individual good, that Socrates through reflection and an entertainment of the higher faculties would be better off, would be capable of experiencing more pleasure. This idea of individual human flourishing, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. Th en also, the notion that as a gadfly, constantly questioning the truths of a culture, he was actively improving his society. In this, we can already begin to understand how this idea of individual liberty can be so contingent upon social interaction. It qu ickly becomes more complicated than just leaving people to themselves. I will focus on two main points in On Liberty which articulate this social idea. First, the proper sphere of freedom. Coming out of this examination of liberty, I will discuss Mill's th ought on education and the social importance of intellectual diversity, disagreement, and self reflection. Next, I explore Mill's Harm Principle and the difference between freedom of opinion, freedom of action, and the freedom of an individual over themse lves.
10 S OCRATES AND T WO B ENEFITS OF F REEDOM To accurately discuss Mill's concept of liberty, we are first obligated to demonstrate its limits. The big bracketing here is that what he means to cover in his discussion of liberty is a civil and social notion, not an idea of the liberty of the will ( On Liberty, p. 5). This condition keeps our discussion away from determinism and existential questions of liberty and focused on the material. Our focus is the individual and their liberty within a society, a specif ic society, and this introduces our next limitation. Mill's society is that following the secularization of legitimacy. One of parliamentary rule. On Liberty is written just over two centuries after the English parliament finds its king guilty of treason a nd has him executed, and just under two centuries from the Glorious Revolution and the 1689 declaration of rights. This is not just an historical aside. In a necessity of nature that their governors should be an independent power, opposed in (On Liberty, p 6). This idea of elected, temporary, accountable rulers changes the discussion of liberty from a discussion of the state against the individual. This moment the incorporation of legitimacy, a removal of authority from the body of the magistrate and the institutionalization of legitimacy in the social body is a radical moment. The state is no longer something which we can treat theoretically separ ate from the individual. We lose the oppositional nature of power, the monarch subject relationship, in self government. And if we may abuse this metaphor of corporeality, the social body which was at first in this rude state made by this opposition to au thority, becomes responsible with the task of deciding itself. It gives birth to itself. For Mill however, this is not immediately an idea of freedom. Self government, as it is
11 called, redirects the oppressive capacity of authority from a small group of go vernors to the majority. This point is more interesting than it is obvious. For Mill, the oppressive capacity of a social majority is more pervasive and enslaving than that of a magistrate. In the oppositional dynamic which the sovereign magistrate presen ted, the individual can at least ideally escape by viewing the ruler as a tyrant. I do not wish to say here that this is a freedom, their liberties may still be limited by the formal organization of the state, but rather I argue here that democracy present a unique problem. When society imposes its own mandates, and becomes its own tyrant, its oppressive acts are not limited to the mechanisms of the political sphere ( On Liberty, p. 8). Each individual becomes part of the oppressive nature of this mechanism. History is not without example of this problem of self government. To make this point, we can look at Plato's apologia. From this account of Socrates trial, we are told that our liberal hero was not brought to trial by a sovereign or a removed authority, but by his peers; and not for a violent offense to his society, but for questioning of its truths. Socrates' defense of himself reveals something of Mill's argument. The first charge Plato summarizes in his account of Socrates' speech is "Socrates is an ev il doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the Apology ) The simplest we can say this is that Socrates was ac cused of not sharing the beliefs of the Athenian public, and that he preached his own. In his defense of this claim, he asserts his ignorance. The familiar account of the oracle of Delphi, who exclaims that Socrates is the wisest man in all of Athens becau Apology ).
12 Socrates point is that he preaches nothing, his occupation is instead to show that the in On the second acquisition, that Socrates is corrupting the youth of Athens, he asks his jury who instead is the improver of the youth. His accuser asserts that the judges, the laws and the senators improve the youth, while Socrates corrupts them. His logic leads to the conclusion that Socrates would have no reason to corrupt the youth with whom he lives among. That as an individual, Socrates, like each, has an interest in bettering his fellow man, and not in injuring them. This is Mill's logic, what Socrates' himself pleads in his closing statement. That the people of Athens have misidentified Socrates as a criminal, that instead he is their hero. Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God, or lightly reject his boon by condemning me. For if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sor t of gadfly, given to the state by the God; and the state is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has given the state and all day long and in all p laces am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. And as you will not easily find another like me, I would advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel irritated at being suddenly awakened when you are caught napping; and you may think that if you were to strike me dead, as Anytus advises, which you easily might, then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, unless God in his care of you gives you another gadfly (Plato's Apology). This is at least partiall y why Mill fears that democracy will produce a mediocrity, that a free society will enslave its self to commonness (On Liberty, p. 73). Through the tyranny of the majority, the control of opinion, morals, actions, and importantly, education become legitima te. If we allow only our laws to be our example, to hold the beliefs of society as dogma, than we have no freedom (the individual concern) and no
13 progress (the argument of a social project). In Mill's defense of Socrates, he makes these two notions explici t. That the good of liberty is first, the position from which an individual can explore their mental faculties. This idea that the unexamined life is not worth living. But also that the organization of society should not be static. That there is a social b enefit to varied experiments in living. It is from this basis that we can begin to examine Mill's specific argument for liberty. Mill sorts this liberty into three conditions, two obvious and one more nuanced: liberty of thought, of action, and of the ind ividual over themselves. These conditions must be handled separately because they mean a different thing towards the individual, and toward the social good we have referenced above This notion of liberty is not only about the individual being left alone. Liberty is a freedom for an individual to pursue their own ends, but there is a limit to the sovereignty each individual has over themselves. Mill's individualism combines the project of self hood with a social project. F REEDOM OF T HOUGHT AND O PINION The o nly condition which he argues deserves total freedom is that of thought. I will treat the condition of thought and opinion first. The silencing opinion is not harmful g the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold On Liberty, p. 21). Mill does not see opinion only as a private hold ing, it has value to more than just its holder, and perhaps more value. This social ill of dismissing or silencing opinion gets divided into three arguments. The idea could in fact be valid, it
14 could contain some truth even if it is not entirely true, and that debating the idea, maintaining skepticism, allows a held truth more confidence. On the first point, that a suppressed opinion could possible be true. An idea that may seem absurd by a group or by a people often is redeemed by subsequent ages, and opi nions or beliefs which are held in a current age, are surely to be rejected by future ages ( On Liberty, p. 23). I have already introduced this notion with reference to Mill's account of the trial of Socrates. We should fear passing judgment on one with who m we disagree. The men which sentenced Socrates to death were not wrong in their decision by the all appearance, not bad men not worse than men commonly are, but rat her the contrary; men who possessed in a full, or somewhat more than full measure, the religious, moral, and patriotic feelings of their time and people: the very kind of men who in all times, our own included, have every chance of passing though life blam On Liberty, p. 30). Their decision was in defense of majority opinion, but we say now that On Liberty p. 33). This is a lie societ y tells itself to be confident in its holdings. It is not exactly accurate to say our defense of Socrates was that he was speaking the truth. If we say Socrates was truthful we ourselves reject our project of skepticism. It is not that Mill denies that r eason and science can establish truths, but more that it does not really matter to our social project if he was correct, this is not an idea of accurateness. Our truths are largely social truths, and our facts are constantly being bettered. I will
15 break th is Socratic defense into two separate arguments. We can imagine first that what Socrates argued may have contained some truth. Rather, in his arguments, there was at least something the other could have learned; some truth. I deal with this briefly because the more crucial component of this is that we may say instead that the value of the Socratic idea is not in a truth he could have presented, but in the relentlessness of his questioning. This is why Socrates is our Millian hero, not because of anything he argued, but because of the social value of argumentation, the gadfly I have acknowledged the importance of defending opinion from suppression because it has the potential to be right, or partially right, But Mill's most interesting point within this argu ment is that even if an idea is false, the dynamic nature of a living idea has more social value than allowing an idea to become dead dogma ( On Liberty, p. 40). Free discussion and argument force individual's to make contact with their own minds ( On Libert y, p. 42). It is so important for Mill that someone defend each side of some them, and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil's advoca On Liberty, p 43). He argues that the challenging of beliefs not permitted to be questioned, mankind could not feel as complete assurance of its trut h that invitation, are held as more certain than the ideas which are sanctimoniously removed from criticism.
16 Mill presents then a mild paradox, that doubt creates cert ainty. From this, skepticism is more socially productive than a mechanism of ideological canonization. Every generation makes their reasonable facts, and the reason of every future generation betters he great practical concerns of life, is so much a question of the reconciling and combining of opposites, that very few have minds sufficiently capacious and impartial to make the adjustment with an approach to correctness, and it has to be made by the rou gh process of struggle between combatants On Liberty, p. 54). L IBERTY AS H APPINESS From this there has been a balancing of two ideas, the good of this freedom of thought as both an individual good, and as it serves a benef it to the entire society. Here I focus on this first idea, the examined life is more rewarding, the reflective individual is capable of enjoying more pleasure. Mill sees in the liberty of thought an idea of human flourishing. It is in the larger interest o f society to allow for diversity and experiments in On Liberty, p. 63). He argues that no one's idea of human excellence or fulfillment is based on an idea of custom a lone, of the individual perfectly emulating and internalizing his culture and its conduct to the extent that their individuality was indistinguishable from another (or we could say that they exercise no individuality). Equally absurd would be the notion th before they came into it; as if experience had as yet done nothing towards showing that On Liberty, p. 64).
17 Up to this point liberty as a social good has been discussed as an abstract idea This is not how Mill handles the notion of liberty. For Mill, good is based in utility. The project of liberty is exactly this, a project, because we can measure and achieve its be tterment. And the goal of this project, the utility of correctly managing society, is the ( Utilitarianism, p. 137). Immediately we can say this interesting because it sounds apposed to an idea of leaving people to themselves. Actions are measured based upon a principle which has as its unit the greatest happiness. This is not contradictory to a principle of individualism which has such a highly social nature as Mill's. If Mills utility seems surprising by this point than this project has failed to make it clear that liberty for Mill is not an end, but a project. This utility must be furthered ex plained, however. We are concerned with the happiness of the individual, but we are more concerned with the greatest happiness altogether. It might be better understood to discuss this notion in terms of difference. The reader familiar with Mill will not b e surprised when I introduce Jeremy Bentham. Mill was influenced by Bentham's ideas, and based his argument in Utilitarianism off his predecessors ethical system. Bentham argued that utility was a psychological hedonistic idea. This is a notion of pleasure over pain, that anything which is desired for by man is from this intrinsically good. Elisabeth Anderson (1991) points out how Bentham thought this was an empirical foundation for utility. Any value judgment which purported to other intrinsic goods where fraudulent ( John Stuart Mill and Experiments in Living p. 6) When one say that any taste is better or higher than
18 his own capricious feelings of pleasure... and insis (p. 6). The only unit by which we can measure a good is by intensity and duration, not quality or rank. Bentham employed a method of paraphresis where he would show in any value judgment there to be capriciousness by replacing words in the claim with only empirical entities. Imagine the difficulty of explaining the value of opera without the use of idealized terms. I find it to be rewarding, fulfilling, beautiful. Where is the empirical pleasure? It is clear to se e why Bentham would see nonhedonic value judgments as dangerous, they can be tyrannical and arbitrary. This is an idea which I will get to in another way, for now I will focus on where Mill takes this idea of utility as happiness. Mill agrees on this prin ciple of greatest happiness, but his concept of utility breaks from Bentham's in that Mill believes there is a structure of higher goods inherent in the structure of human desires. Anderson (1991) points to the fact that this break is part of a much larger philosophical divide between proponents of empirical naturalism and hierarchicalists. This break goes out in two directions. First, we have to construct an argument for a classification of pleasures, that a pleasure could be higher or nobler than an other Second, in abandoning the psychological hedonism of utility, happiness becomes about a social idea, and not about the satisfaction of an individual with a specific experience. More radically, we can no longer (from Mill's articulation of utility) say tha t the good of something is measurable by a human desire for it. We have to find an argument for why we should reject something that satisfies an intrinsic desire in exchange for a higher pleasure. Colloquially, how do we convince an individual to put down his beer and study poetry. That the prior is not what they really desire, but that excitement and hedonism is a vice, a disease ( Utilitarianism, p. 144). Interestingly, Mill's
19 method remains empirical in that Mill believes those who have experienced both t ypes of pleasures, the class of excitement and lowness, and those of tranquility and mental cultivation, will choose the latter: the higher pleasures. They stand as our witness to this re equally acquainted with, and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying, both, do give a most marked preference to the manner of existence which employs their higher faculties. Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower anim als, for a promise of the fullest allowance of a beast's pleasures; no intelligent human being would Utilitarianism p. 139). Here we must accept that those who have experienced both choose the pleasures of the cultivated mind ov er the lower class of pleasures. And that where they forsake the higher for the lower, it is a moment of weakness of will, not of a judgment of value (Utilitarianism, p. 140). This must be understood alongside Mill's idea of cultural inheritance. Society s hould be free so as it can attempt many experiments in living, but once we have seen the result of these experiments, we should not ignore their findings. If a generation found fulfillment in art, imagination, and poetry, this does not mean these things ar e the higher goods, but we should give them gravity, and once we have had a chance to experience these things, Mill believes we will find that we too prefer them. I have established why we can say in Mill's argument that pleasures are classifiable; why we can have a hierarchy of goods. But we have yet to address the social component of this idea. Above I noted that by removing the psychological hedonistic value of a good, we had to find a social value. To do this we have to introduce the
20 mechanism of digni ty. Utilitarianism provides the defense of a hierarchy, but there is another defense which Mill states less explicitly. Anderson (1991) comments on this higher than t he pleasures of others because they judge the former to be more dignified. Our capacity to make such a nonhedonic value judgment explains our capacity to rank properly understood, is a sense of honor, our place in a society. It is a relational idea. Mill makes the argument that our reason for not desiring lowness after we have become appro priate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form or other, and in some, though by no means in exact, proportion to their higher faculties, and which is so essential a part of the happiness of those in whom it is strong, that nothing which conflicts with it could be, otherwise than momentarily, an object of desire Utilitarianism, p. 140). This idea almost implies that happiness is dignity. Nothing which would make us undignified could, for more than a moment, bri ng us happiness. We make our judgments of the value of a good from an idea of honor. This is not a radical idea if we connect this back to Mill's idea of commitment to a social body. In the same way that above I discussed how our sovereignty over our self is limited by our obligation to society; our choosing of pleasures operates similarly. In the sphere of action, opinion and law operate to influence the individual in their decision; in the sphere of pleasure the structuring mechanism is dignity. When we bring these ideas together, there is a point that is consistent in Mill's thought. Much in the same way that
21 liberty allows society the freedom to produce its truths, pleasure if left to the individual to decide for themselves will come back to a dominan t idea. H ARM AND C ONSEQUENCE From this defense of the freedom of opinion Mill moves to the sphere of individual action. But first we must consider an idea that we have carried over from the reflective notion. If this mechanism of diverse opinion and debat e is successful, we would get to a point where mankind has this kind of successful are no longer disputed or doubted will be constantly on the increase: and the well being of mankind may almost be measured by the number and gravity of the truths which have On Liberty, p. 49). We should not wish that parts of society hold truths erroneously just so that the segment of the public that holds an uncontested doctrine is confronted with contention. Two ideas come out of On Liberty and Mill's defense of freedom that must be brought together: that public opinion has the potential to stop the process of contention which reveals that facts are opinions and that generations better every previous generati on's knowledge. But this defense of contestation reveals something about Mill's larger theory. His fear that facts will become dead dogma is about a social project. I have discussed why reflection is necessary for the individual, but Mill's idea of liberty does not end with an idea of happiness. That we can get to truths through reflection says something more than just that we enjoy this process. This is maybe most clear in Mill's notion that the progress of society can be measured in the number of facts th at have become uncontested ( On Liberty, p. 49). Surprisingly, this is not a bad thing for J.S. Mill as long as the reflectiveness of society survives their
22 acceptances. What this establishes is that in skepticism, society is not necessarily revealing truth s, truth is not a thing which hides from us, we work towards a truth. We balance between both sides of an issue... The proper and strong conviction that one ought t o have regarding the truth of one's beliefs is to be based on one's rational understanding Social Justice and Communication p. 141). In Mill's Harm principle what society finds harmful is not constant. Like any oth er truth that a public can come to, recognizing consequence is an idea before it is an agreement. Humans should be free to establish and express opinions, without reserve, and that restricting this liberty in anyway is harmful to the individual but even more so to On the contrary, even opinions lose their immunity, when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some On Liberty, p. 62). Mill uses the example of a mob outside a corn dealer's home. The opinion that corn dealers are starving the poor is fine and should go unmolested, but not if the opinion is expressed to an angry mo b on the corn dealer's door On Liberty, p.62). An opinion which has as its ends the incitement of violence is not beneficial to society, it is harmful. This introduces J.S. ( On Liberty, p. 14). The liberty of opinio n always serves a social benefit, but clearly the liberty of action has the potential to cause injury to others.
23 of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to socie ty, is that which concerns On Liberty, On Liberty, p. 83). Mill begins to explain this idea by rejecting contract the ory. He finds no use in inventing a hypothetical state of nature from which individuals form a social contract to determine their social obligations. It is both easier than that, and more complex. It is easier in that we can remove the contract and reduce On Liberty, p.83). each should be bo On Liberty, p. 83). injuring the interests of one another... and secondly, in each person bearing his share.. of the labours and sacrifices incurred in defending the society or its members from injury On Liberty, p. 83). The first we can attribute to the harm principle. It is easy to follow from Mill's earlier arguments that there is a proper s phere to individual action, that ones liberty is limited to the extent that they can not act freely in a way if it infringes on another's liberty. This is the less complicated idea that I mentioned above. Mill then introduces a new idea from this. The indi vidual can err in two ways, both are within the jurisdiction of society, but only one deserves the response of law, the other consideration for their welfare, witho ut going the length of violating any of their
24 On Liberty, p. 83). This harm can only be punished justly by public opinion. Law is reserved for violations of rights. What this enunciates is an idea of choice. Mill's notion of consequen ce reintroduces the idea of a public making itself; a public decides itself. This is why we find it necessary to influence the individual's choice of action through opinion before we do so through law. This is a really interesting idea if we keep in mind o ur fear of the tyranny of majority opinion. Society should allow for experiments in living, a freedom of action. This action should only be limited if the social body finds the consequence of that action damaging to the social project. The individual is mo st interested in his or her own well being. It is therefore their own choice whether violating the norms, or interests of others is worth the backlash of opinion from the social body. If the state were to make a rule governing a form of action, it deprives the individual the chance to choose for themselves based upon an free exercise with one another. Individuality has its proper field of action. In the conduct of human beings towards one another, it is necessary that general rules should for the most part be observed, in order that people may know what they have to expect; but in each person's own concerns, his individual spontaneity is entitled to free exercise. Considerations to aid his judgment, exhortations to strengthen his will, may be offered to him, even obtruded on him, by others; but he, himself, is the final judge. All errors which he is likely to commit against advice and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem his good (p. 85). There is a te nsion between the importance of individuals choosing for themselves, and ensuring that they make a good choice. This may at first seem puzzling from Mill's argues that the individual should be free to choose their course of action, but that they should mak e the right choice. This is best expressed in his bridge a public officer or any one else saw a person attempting to cross a bridge which had been ascertained to be unsafe, and there were no time to warn him of his danger, they mig ht
25 seize him and turn him back without any real infringement of his liberty; for liberty On Liberty, p. 107). Liberty here is defined as a freedom of doing what one desires but desire in this case, is not strictly the business of the individual actor. Desire is structured, and from this conclusion, we can easily draw that liberty is structured. I will restate this because of the importance of this point. If the individual t ook it upon themselves to cross a bridge, and was stopped for their safety, their immediate desire, and liberty, were interfered with by the social act of the other. After the communicative act, the warning, takes place we are left with two conditions. In the first instance, the actor disregards the warning. Mill now would say that either all that could be done was attempted, and that if the advice of society could not influence this individual, it is their risk to cross the bridge. Or, Mill could say that the social cost imposed by the act of taking on this unnecessary risk justified a legal incursion on their liberty. The second instance would be that the communicative act convinced the pedestrian that no, it was not their desire to end up in the river. Th is begs the question whether this was always their desire, or if this desire was created through discourse. We can read this last statement and assert that of course it was not their desire to fall in the river. Mill in this hypothetical relies on an idea of certain danger, but in most cases of regulation, the danger to the individual is not as material as the collapsing bridge. He justifies from this idea a limit to freedom based upon a society recognizing consequences. That the individual might not have understood the consequence to themselves justifies the social incursion. Mill argues that it is not an intrusion to the liberty of the actor to prevent them from an action which is not truly their desire. We are
26 not preventing them from crossing the bridge we are keeping them from harm, from falling into the water. This amounts to reasoning in which we would have to say the individual often does not recognize the same consequences that the public recognizes. We can entertain this idea, of the relationship of consequence between the individual and the public, from two directions. First what is harmful for the individual, we can still see as having a positive consequence for the public. The soldier is hardly kept back from battle because it is not their desir e to be killed; but the soldier provides such a good to society that the personal harm to the soldier is palatable. Second, the idea that what the individual might want for themselves might be harmful to the public. Mill argues that drunkenness is in ordin On Liberty, p. 108). But in certain cases, the drunkard may cause such a social ill through their violence to others, or idleness and failure to perform their duties to society, that their libert y may be rightfully curtailed by the moral and legal apparatus, and the public may On Liberty, p. 108). Rather, this policy of liberty based upon the harm princi ple becomes problematic as a response to social problems. From a place of policy, Mill suggests we have different means to address different persons in relation to their obligations to society. Mill has a difficult time making a coherent policy argument c oming from the harm principle. When we make the limit of liberty this principle of harm, we create a show that they have a means of supporting a family, do not exceed t he legitimate powers On Liberty p. 120). That these laws prevent injury to others, the child and
27 the public which has to support the parties. We are told this is not an intrusion, however we must be surprised by this. This relationship is su rely private. We can not allow for the state to determine who is capable and who is not capable of supporting a family. This problem of applying to the harm principle to material situations arises when we try to understand harm, a principle of consequence, as a responsive condition of society. When John Dewey takes up this notion of a public recognizing the consequences of association, it is not as an after thought, a limit to individual liberties, but rather as the fulfillment of this notion we have been t ouching the surface of, that instead of understanding Mill's harm principle as a limit of freedom, we should instead see it as a formative idea. It is not that the public protects itself from harm by the individual, but rather that public's are made throug h the recognition of what concerns a group conjointly. Reconsidering this example of forbidding marriage, it makes sense in this Deweyan theory of a public. As I address in the next chapter, when private actions begin to have an external consequence, a pub lic arises. C ONCLUSION When we compare the strange respect of mankind for liberty, with their strange want of respect for it, we might imagine that a man had an indispensable right to do harm to others, and no right at all to please himself without giving 120). What I have attempted in this chapter is to provide a reading of Mill's theory of liberty which is more complicated than just the superficial notion that leaving the individual to themselves is better than attempting to control them. In this I have explored the tension between the individual and the social that Mill presents in his limit to freedom. This tension comes to be split into two parts, first the reflective notion: the good
28 of liberty of thought serves both a social good, and an individual good. On this idea, we considered the benefit that reflection has for society, that the tyranny of majority opinion creates dead dogma. In this I explored Socrates as Mill's liberal hero, and considered the ways in which the reflective life, as well as improving society, has the potential to make the individual themselves happier. That the life of Socrates is better than the life of a fool. I will take up these ideas in the third chapter of this project, questioning Mill's the ory of utility based in the greatest happiness principle using Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class. From this, I will ask if his reflective mechanism is realistic using Pierre Bourdieu's theory of habitus, and the naturalization of tastes. On t he second idea, the sphere of human action, I have introduced Mill's harm principle. That the proper limit to the liberty of an individual is the point at which their action causes harm to an other. I have suggested that this moment of harm is not just a r esponsive idea, but that instead we can read Mill's harm principle as an action becoming public. That as the consequence of association concerns more than just the parties intimately involved, a public arises to internalize the harm. Mill's difficulty in a pplying the harm principle to specific instance stems from the error in assuming that this is a reactive notion. In the second chapter I will consider how Dewey and pragmatist theory takes up this idea of harm and makes it formative. This solves Mill's pro blem of subjective harm, and re frames this issue of the limit of freedom as an idea of a public creating itself through communication and the internalization of the consequences of individual associations, instead of as an established public protecting it self from injury.
29 C HAPTER II: H ARM AND C ONSEQUENCE John Dewey comes into discussion with Mill not because the harm theory articulates exactly the same meaning which Dewey expressed through consequence, but rather that they contain the same concern Dewe y, a generation after Mill, takes up this project of the tension between the individual and the social. He saw himself both as indebted to early liberal theorists such as Mill for their contributions to the individual freedom of thought and expression and as building upon their theory. James Gouinlock (1986) in his work Excellence in Public Discourse draws Mill and Dewey together on the importance in their respective theories of participation. For both theorists public communication, the liberty of thought and expression, becomes more than just a freedom for the sake of the individual. However much Dewey revered the work of early liberal theorists (Gouinlock 1986, p. 110), it is because they carved out this defense of thought and expression, not because he ultimately agrees with them. As I will address in this chapter, Dewey finds liberal thought to be at its foundation problematic. He finds the representation of the relationship between the individual and society in Mill's On Liberty and in the liberal trad ition in general, to be an artificial construction. The individual is always, and ral idea. No amount of association automatically constitutes a community. We are always
30 consequences of combined action are perceived and become an object of desire and ef mechanism of opinion instead of as an oppositional condition, such as in the subject sovereign relationship. Dewy takes up this task but re frames the conversation complet ely. Where we still have this public private tension, with Dewey we can introduce two critiques and two new contributions. First, Dewey dismisses ideological individualism. Instead of viewing the private public tension as a condition of the individual ve rsus the social, Dewey views the individual as always in association. There is no individual without the social. We can have a public and private consideration, and an idea of a self, but the the philosophical and social enunciation of individualism, a nak ed individual, is a fiction. Our second critique of the debate we carry over from Mill is a dismissal of authorship, or causative forces leading to the formation of a public. This is explained by Dewey's first contribution, our reconsideration of Mill's ha rm principle as a recognition of consequence. Dewey argues that a public is not formed, it comes to be from a shared concern of the external consequence of interactions. Harm in this way is not a responsive idea as Mill discusses it, but a formative one. T he public does not limit the liberty of an individual to protect itself from an agreed upon harm, but as the consequence becomes understood as a harm the borders of the public are made real. Finally, Dewey articulates his own concern about the public in a democratic society. If Mill's problem for his mechanism of liberty is the tyranny of the majority and of opinion, Dewey's fear is that the public can become eclipsed; that it will no longer be able to be a community in the sense that associated individual' s will not be able to recognize the consequences of
31 actions. Specifically, that publics become complicated. As the mechanisms of association extend past traditional borders, it becomes more difficult for a group to understand or identify these consequences Association loses coherence. And, in this, the parties most equipped to teach us what these consequences are, are those which have an interest in them. I will not dwell on this last point, the importance is in understanding that Mill and Dewey's theory f aces the same fear. That if a group loses the ability to be deliberative, to freely and reflectively communicate and bracket its concerns, whether this be from the tyranny of the majority, or from the persuasion by organized interests, than it is molded in the interest of power. It no longer has the ability to pursue a project of reflection and formation, of experimentation and freely choosing itself. Ultimately what I will show is how Dewey takes up the project of Mill's individual and social good of liber ty, and that they share the same fear, but that he completely re frames what liberty, association, and even individualism mean. I DEOLOGICAL I NDIVIDUALISM Dewey in rejecting liberal individualism takes up the same subject as Mill. Where Mill upholds the i ndividualistic ideology, and tries to connect it to a social utilitarianism, Dewey rejects it completely and constructs a narrative of the rise of political and philosophical dominance of individualism and freedom as an end in itself in response to this tr adition. First, he presents the idea as a response to established forms of government. He claims that the movement expressed itself in intellectual terms which : had a negative import even when they seemed to be positive. Freedom presented itself as an en d in itself, though it signified in fact liberation from oppression and tradition. Since it was necessary, upon the intellectual side, to find justification for the movement of revolt, and since established authority was upon the side of institutional life the natural recourse
32 was appeal to some indeclinable sacred authority resident in the protesting individuals. any association, except those which they deliberately fo rmed for their own ends, with native or natural rights. The revolt against old and limiting associations was converted, and its Problems, p. 87). This theory of ind ividualism that Dewey claims is really a responsive theory of government confounded into a theory of individual freedoms is really a statement on the success of this intellectual revolution. Here it is necessary to discuss three ideas which are all part of this one history: why the political revolt had to call upon the naked individual, why it wanted to, and what this ends up meaning in practice. No single movement led to political democracy from earlier organizations of the state. In revolting against es tablished forms of institutional life, there was a need to justify intellectually any action towards a new organization. Questioning the legitimacy of an established organization naturally must introduce a legitimacy question of itself. Individualism as a 88). To attack the state was to attack the entire traditional pattern of association, not just an iteration of the political. Individualism, or an assertion of natural, pre political rights, the naked individual, to sweep away all associations as foreign to his nature and rights save as they proceeded from his own voluntary choice, and guaranteed his own private This change from traditional and divine legitimacy to the sovereignty of the natural individual did not happen in isolation, it was being manifested in science, and
33 economics as well as in the political. In science, the rise of psychology occurs around the same time that we have the natural rights response to established organization, putting empirical focus on the person as a self (p. 89). The economic idea comes from a scientific idea, in that scientific and mechanical improvements allowed for a different kind of employment and production, opening up the possibility of limitless innovation. Limitless except for the political and legal regulations. The traditional state in opposition to the state of the individual demonstrated a rigid planned economy. The traditional was the mercantile state, the journeymen state, the state of the landed aristocracy. It is intellectually orderly that w hen land is the primary necessity for economic production that a sovereign be responsible ultimately for its distribution and use. Land is scarce, and contested, both between countrymen themselves, and the foreign other. The King keeps peace internally and protects the resources from invasion. We know this idea. This is a contract, the sovereignty of the King comes from the acknowledgment by the landowner that he needs his claim to his land to be legitimate, and protected. The good Kings makes themselves an achronistic. Land ownership becomes institutionalized, and formalized. At some point in history a deed to a parcel of land stops being from the King, but of the law. The legalization of economics is most relevant here in the topic of limited liability. Pr oduction began to rely less and less on how much land one had the right to, and more on efficiency from technological innovation. More can be extracted from less land. Less land is easier to protect. This is one idea. The second idea from this goes back to the story of industrialization which with we are all too familiar. Technology made agriculture
34 less reliant on labor at the same time that it made mechanical production possible. The alienated laborer, the story is told, moves to the city to sell his labo r to the industrialist 1 Economic policy became more relevant to this new class of industrialists and proletariat than justifications for land holdings. The wealth and power of the nation was being made by the factories of the great cities. Why then, were the economics of trade and production being left to the traditional power structure? Any mercantile trade policy became traditional, restrictive, unscientific, and ultimately a limitation on the individual to pursue wealth outside of the existing organiza tion of the state. L aissez faire became the science of the age of individualism, and individualism became the justification for democratic revolution. The classical one stroke did away with all forms of association, leaving in theory, the bare individual With this philosophical and social individualism in place the stage is set for the eclipse of the public. Not because t he individual eclipses the public, but because the public structured a narrative which allowed for the free market to fill in the gap that the traditional organization of society had previously filled. A SSOCIATION AND THE D ISMISSAL OF A UTHORSHIP 1 Essay on t he Principle of Population in 1798 the British government saw a need to have reliable data on the number of people in the country. The Census Act was passed in 1800 and the first survey began in 1801. The 1801 census showed that England's population was 8. 3 million, with less than a million living in London, in under a century the population of London was over six times that, with the country's population only increasing by half that factor (Jefferies 2005, p. 7).
35 The first section of Dewey's The Public and its Problems can be broken into four distinct arguments. The first is Dewey's treatment of theory, but more specifically it is a treatment of facts and ideas. Not material facts, but facts qua facts. The duality of facts and meaning, political philosophy and political science, between actions and ideas, between the general and the particular, and between the actual and the hypothetical. The second argument concerns the division between private and public, to which Dewey le nds his notion of consequence. The third about association and social arrangements, finally segueing into a concretization of what is meant by the state, and what this implies for understanding an individual's social role. This section is particularly imp ortant to a discussion of the relationship between the individual and the state, it is here that Dewey gives his most positivistic account of the social and political actor, dismissing the encumbered notions of political personhood and instead looking at a ssociationalism and the consequence of action. First, on the subject of facts. This is not an hermeneutic aside for Dewey, the gap between the science of politics and the theory of politics is central. What we can typify into two realms, the theoretical ( values, ideas, interpretations) and the actual (action, data, the measurable and observable), are really of one class. You can not separate the idea and the mind from the action and the muscle or body, because they are part of the same structure. There are facts which are conditioned by human activity, and there are the facts which condition human activity (Dewey 1927, p. 7). The way this concept is introduced is by examining the narrative of the role of the state. Dewey considers the state in its Aristotel just one of many social institutions, with a formal purpose, in concert with civil society.
36 He considers the state as an oppressive tyrant, and also from the perspective of a liberal tradition with views the state as an instrument for keeping individuals from infringing upon each others liberties (pp. 4 5). The conclusion from this accumulation of stories of what the state is, or should be, is that the narrative actively influ ences the actual. Rather: The different theories which mark political philosophy do not grow up externally to the facts which they aim to interpret; they are amplifications of selected factors among these facts. Modifiable and altering human habits sustai n and generate political phenomena. These habits are not wholly informed by reasoned purpose and deliberate choice far from it but they are more or less amenable to them. Bodies of men are constantly engaged in attacking and trying to change some politic al habits, while other bodies of men are actively supporting and justifying them. It is a mere pretense, then, to suppose that we can stick by the de facto and not raise at some points the question of de jure : the question of by what right, the question of legitimacy. And such a question has a way of growing until it This is by no means a conclusion. This idea of ideas introduces the next part of this argument. If we have just agreed that ideas have both a structuring and structured nature, and that facts and meanings are inseparable, then the next agreement we wish to reach from this is that behavior itself is responsive. To be more clear, if we wish to lay claim to what the state is, or o ught to be, we must concede that we are laying equal claim to the conditions by which individuals associate, and the consequence of that association. To understand this we can look at the way Dewey discusses responsiveness, consequence, and ultimately the distinction between the private and public. The attention given by Dewey to the responsiveness of behavior stems from his desire to dismiss the notion that the formation of the state is attributable to a causative power inherent to a human nature. A value or an idea can be shaped as much from the actual as it can shape it, the nature of an animal too is both structuring and structured. To say that the state comes to be because man is a social animal is to introduce a prior condition of man coming to be soci al. Even further, without resorting to this evolutionary
37 reductionism, Dewey's position has a second component. For the cry of a baby to be social behavior, it must have consequence. The cry would not exist without it having a social purpose (the evolution ary point), but this presupposes the necessity of a consequence upon an other. What is meant by this is that communication is inherently trans active. This point is the foundation of social action for Dewey (p. 12). An act or conversation must be perceived the consequence of the action is confined between those directly engaged, than it is a private action. H owever, if the action has consequences which extend beyond the parties In this sense, the distinction between private and public is in no way equivalent to that between individual and social. This point is made more clear by considering that an individual's private action can be of a social nature. Dewey presents the analogy from Adam Smith that our breakfast table is supplied by the activities of farmers, grocers, and b utchers acting for their own private affairs and for their own private profit (p. 14). This non equivalency is taken further to show that conversely, not all public acts are socially useful acts. The evidence given for this position is the fact that war is not always socially matter. It is the second part of this idea that is more relevan t for our larger discussion. Dewey, from this, comes to the claim that we can not identify the community and its interests with the state. The subject of private and public, then, is determined not by an official capacity. This is causally backwards. The s tate and organized legal institutions
38 develop out of a interest in internalizing the consequence of behavior. We do not get to a state from a divine contract, or from a voluntary act, but from an unaccountably extensive history of the consequence of behavi ors (pp. 16 18). We therefore can not understand the state in terms of authorship or causal forces (what Dewey calls the prime fallacy of theories of the state). Mill and Dewey both conceptualize the state in an associative, behavioral model. Dewey's disc ussion is surely more open ended and Mill's more constrained to a causal explanation, but both move away from a Hobbesian Leviathan or a Rousseauian disembodied collective will. Dewey and Mill's behavioral explanations of the state focus on the consequence of interaction, but also on the coming to be of association. Rather, the structuring forces of associated behavior. I have considered above Mill's understanding of the influence of a dominant opinion, and here we can unpack Dewey's. Mill begins to addres s the importance of socialization and the coming to an opinion with his work on education and the power of popular belief. More so, his claim of the social value of liberty is not axiomatic, it is a value which Mill said is come to (Mill 1859, p. 6). B ut D ewey treats the matter more centrally. For Dewey all behavior is Thus man is not merely de facto associated, but he becomes a social animal in the make up of his ideas, sentiments and deliberate behavior. What he believes, hopes for and aims at is the outcome of association and intercourse (p. 25). Although similar, there is a fundamental d ifference between Mill and Dewey's position on this point. On Liberty holds that deliberate behavior and choice is socially
39 valuable and aspirational. That essentially, the state enforcing a belief or silencing a contrarian is damaging because it deprives the individual the ability to develop an idea, and internalize a view through a deliberate process of reason. The self is made through the deliberateness of association. For Dewey this is the start, but he takes it further to claim that there is no purpose fully chosen opinion, sentiment, or behavior. Mill's narrative of self coming from association is stuck in the causal fallacy that Dewey wishes to correct. The narrative of self formation from The Public and its Problems would read that belief and intentio n is provided by association, not deliberated from it (p. 25). With a context for association and a delineated public and private, we can begin to discuss what Dewey means by the state. Dewey claims that if the public is viewed through our above mentioned model of consequential behavior than the state is either empty in its definition because it covers all organized interests, or it is such because it is redundant. If it is everything in totality than the theoretical importance of the state is marginal. Thus it happens that the state, instead of being all absorbing and inclusive, is under some circumstances the most idle and empty of social arrangements... Any method which so broadens the scope of the state as to lead to such conclusion merely makes the s tate a name for the totality of all kinds of associations. The moment we have taken the word as loosley as that, it is at once necessary to distinguish, within it, the state in its usual legal and We are given a formal defini but the complexity of Dewey's use of this term comes largely from the fact that the state is defined by the pub lic, and the public is an associative and temporary body. We can not say what a good state is because in no two ages or places in history can we point to the
40 same organization of the public (p. 33). This position leads Dewey to claim that the formation of states is inherently experimental. We can have no clear theory of state formation, or no concrete definition of the state, because both in nature are dynamic. This alone as an idea is fine, but it becomes more interesting if we consider that just as Mill is offering an aspirational account of the state, as too is Dewey. Both theorists propose projects and enumerate what they see as socially valuable and socially harmful. Mill and Dewey both open their writing by dismissing origin stories, and then offer th eir own. They both recognize that there is no good state, that the state can only be good in relation to the specific social conditions of the public in time, then attempt to prescribe fixes for the current damaged state, and they both come back to opinion as the germ of associationalism. In the next sections of this chapter, I will continue to unpack Dewey's theory of consequence and association as well as incorporating his ideas on the public, the state, and the individual, into the larger discussion of l evels association. F REEDOM T HE P UBLIC U NDERSTOOD T HROUGH C ONSEQUENCE What I have established so far from Dewey's method is that he does not build theory from casual agency or authorship. It has not so much been made clear how the public and the state are c onceptualized in this theory of non causality. Dewey here offers more negative constraints to what the public and the state are not before we get to a refined vocabulary. First, the public as an idea is not the community as a whole. This is just a restatem ent of the initial question. Society, a public, and a community are not interchangeable terms in Dewey's usage, but using community to clarify public does not incorporate a discussion of what the ties are that constitute a public, it just dismisses the
41 que stion or restates it (p. 38). To answer what is a public we have to more carefully consider the limits of consequence, as well as discuss the public in contrast with the state. On the first idea, we are given two obvious limits to the sphere of a public, g eography and temporality (p. 39). This follows from our early discussion that Dewey here dismisses universality. A public in its effort to internalize and control for consequence based on some less than general will, must certainly be responding immediatel y to the same self evident phenomenon It may be necessary here to caution that a conception of a public responding to consequence could be freed from this temporal or geographic constraint, but in this articulation we are concerned with the immediacy of co ncern. Dewey does later offer an idea which focuses on communication, and reexamines the constraint of localism, but the temporal constraint does not get dropped, for a public must be material for it to be. The interest of a dead individual, as ideological ly persuasive or culturally pervasive as it may be, can not associate or organize without the agency of the phenomenological. Put this way, Marx did not start the Bolshevik revolution. Publics are about people before they are about ideas. This could be ta (p. 39). By this it is meant that a family can not be called a public. Hopefully this reasoning is clear following a discussion of Dewey's delineation between public and private association. Family interaction may have consequences which are appreciated in what Dewey calls an intimate way, but it is not until that a response is organized outside of a family to control for a consequence of association that the behavior can be called public. By the same principle of private versus public consequence, neighborhood
42 association largely follows the same pattern that is shown in the family. It is not until we get to a large enough sphere of interaction that a state becomes necessary to organize the public that we can say we have non intimate consequential behavior pp. 40 41). A public is in some sense made by isolation, and is limited by it. I say we must c onsider the state and the public together to understand either because without doing so we hazard becoming stuck in a cyclical mechanism of asking how big or small a public must be, how isolated or connected must it be, how non familiar or how intimate. De wey answers this by presenting another question. We take so for granted the existence of unique states, staking out their borders and geography, electing their representatives and pursuing their interests, waging wars and engaging in trade, that we hardly find this strange, let alone consider why people can identify with this constructed national identity. To understand what a public is, and how consequence is constrained, we must look at why states continue to be relevant even when ideas, culture, labor, r eligion, and whatever else, can pass through their borders with ease. ...There are social groups so separated by rivers, seas and mountains, by strange languages and gods, that what one of them does save in war has no appreciable consequence for anoth er. There is no common interest, no public, and no need nor possibility of an inclusive state. The plurality of states is such a universal and notorious phenomenon that it is taken for granted. It does not seem to require explanation. But it sets up, as we have noted, a test difficult for some theories to meet. Except upon the basis of a freakish limitation in the common will and reason which is alleged to be the foundation of the state, the difficulty is insuperable. It is peculiar, to say the least, that universal reason should be unable to cross a mountain range and objective will balked by a river current. The difficulty is not so great for many theories. But only the theory which makes recognition of consequences the critical factor can find in the fact many states a corroborating trait. Whatever is a barrier to the spread of the consequences of associated
43 tions that are too narrow, close and intimate and those which are so remote as to have only advances two mechanisms of our conversation. The first is the idea which introduces this quotation, that discussing the public together with the state is crucial to understanding both concepts alone. The second idea is the larger focus of this chapter, that Dewey's theory of consequence which contains this idea of material and observable government, embraces John Mill's harm principle. This latter idea is our next focus. If the state is the organizational manifestation of a public defined by the limits of concern of consequence, this would seem to imply that states grow from sol ely associative behavior. That we should be able to consider geopolitical boundaries as boundaries of consequence. The problem with this paradigm however, is that it is grossly historically inaccurate. Empires have come and gone, federations have formed an d dissolved, and states have both appeared and disappeared from existence through political process, while the public living in these cities and country sides, and their concern of consequence, have hardly changed. More simply, the political act does not m ake the public. So how then can we understand the connection between government and consequence as materially and observably accurate? Dewey's answer is somewhat intellectually arrogant but also predictable if we allow his dismissal of theories of causalit wavering and shifting line of distinction between a state and other forms of social union is, again, an obstacle in the way of theories of the state which imply as their co ncrete
44 political rule exists, and taxes are levied or governors or soldiers or any other indication or characteristic of the state are present, a state in this conception does not exist without publica as Dewey defines them. This is not to say that a state can not come to exist from political causality, but it does not come from it. By this last point I mean that changes brought about to the material culture of a body of pe ople by a social, or political, or material invention, change the behavior and conditions of association of said people; and conditions of association shape the boundaries and nature of consequence. This in turn will exact the type of political behavior ne cessary to care for the newly instituted public. Publics are always changing as behaviors and consequences change. Not only can we say that the political moment does not make the state, but the state does not make the esis which holds that publics are constituted by recognition of existence and enduring indirect consequences of acts accounts for the relativity of states, while theories which define them in terms of specific causal authorships imply an absoluteness which Here I bring Mill's harm principle into the discussion of Dewey's notion of consequence. At their convergence, both of these ideas discuss the formation of publica in terms of recognizing consequences. More so, each of these ideas is based in a notion of communication and public discourse. To answer this question of how the harm principle is relevant to Dewey, we have to understand the larger assumptions of pragmatism. Pragmatism is a response to an epistemological tradi tion. It in general holds that knowledge is a social phenomenon, a matter of experience with an environment, not an idea of introspection or a creation objective truth claims. Eric A. MacGilvray (1999) in
45 his reconciliation of philosophical and political p ragmatism, defines this in four words. Experience as Experiment p. 546). The larger coming together of Mill and Dewey that brackets their theories of consequence is at the root of pragmatism, Mill's notion of liberty as supporting various experiments of living and the epistemological project of pragmatism as experimental intelligence. One last point on this before we address the mechanics of their similarities. Mill's liberalism and Dewey's pra gmatism are both moral projects. The huge background sentiment that these camps share is a freedom for experiment and for individual (p. 563). I will return to Dewey's idea of the good in the next section of this argument, but first we have to finish this mechanical point. The formation of the public for Dewey is a recognizing of consequence. For Mill, the limit to free action is harm. This is a similar idea. The public exists to internalize consequences between individuals which have an external nature. It is not that an action objectively causes harm, harm is what we call the concern of the public. D EWEY S I NDIVIDUAL AND S OCIAL G OOD Dewey's theory of publics introduces two critiques to Mill's theory. First, that individualism as a social good is a responsive idea. From reading Mill's own work, we would assume he would want us to debate and experiment with what is a social good and wha t is not. There is no moment in On Liberty that justifies why the good of individualism is immune to the dynamic and evolving nature of the organization of society. The only constant principle is that humans always exist in association. The
46 second critique is that harm is not a responsive principle but a formative one. Mill frames the harm principle as a limit to the freedom of action, in Dewey's presentation of this concept, it is not as a limiting but an organizing. Despite the theoretical distance betwee n The Public and Its Problems and On Liberty there is a foundation of agreement. Both Mill and Dewey see an individual and social good to liberty and public discourse. The individual benefit for Mill is rooted in utilitarianism, the idea which at this poi nt should be familiar: it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. That a debate over the good will lead to a reflective life, and that this life is capable of providing more and better pleasure. The social benefit coming from the bette ring of truths through confrontation and diversity and for allowing different experiments of living. For John Dewey, the justification of liberty is not called utilitarianism, but it is a similar shared good More simply, what Mill and Dewey share is an ar gument for the value of liberty, but Dewey believes in democracy because he does not think liberty ever meant an personal potentialities which take place only in ric h and manifold association with others: the power to be an individualized self making a distinctive contribution and enjoying in Mill's fear of democracy, and Dewey's faith in it, explains the difference in their moral theories. Both theorists promote an idea of public discourse, but Mill's fear is that democracy will lead to a tyranny of the majority, a mediocrity of opinion. Dewey's is that publics will fail to recognize consequences as they become more com plex. This in not a problem with democracy, but about communication. More so, it is only in democracy that we have the freedom to experiment with organizations of publics. Liberty is a good for
47 Dewey, but as I have said, not because of an isolation, instea d because of social a moral and ideal meaning, it is that a social return be demanded from all and that opportunity for development of distinctive capacities be afforded 9). It is perhaps easiest to emphasize the good that Dewey constructs around liberty by eventually exploring his fear, the potential social ill of not having actors come to choices through deliberation. Mill's harm principle provid es a sphere in which the individual can develop and flourish, Deweyian democracy is not about a sphere in which the individual can be reflective or entertain the higher faculties, it is the interaction itself that comes from democracy's deliberative potent ial. When we say there is never liberty as a leaving someone to themselves, it is part of how we relate in our most naked associations. The first experience of association that the individual has, infancy, is one of dependence. Quite literally the infant relies on the parent for everything. But this does not mean just food and security. All their meanings are handed to them. The earliest learning is a raising, we teach the infant how to be a baby. We do not at first imagine or employ a teaching which teach es the infant to be an individual. This is not an abstract idea, we do not have to make it about socialization or about assigning roles. At the bottom of this issue is a relationship of dependency. Whatever agency the infant may or may not have is insignif icant when compared to their dependency. Dewey discusses this as an idea of the transmission of culture between generations. There is not at first a moral lesson, a community idea, the fist association is
48 an organic transmission. When this becomes interest ing then is when the individual comes out of this. It is not too much of a reach to say we learn to be an infant out of dependency, but our becoming an individual is somehow different. From both Mill and Dewey individualism is about deliberateness, what yo u do with habit and the organic nature of association. We can not say there is an individual at all if we like the infant have no part to play in the making of ourselves. The really interesting moment comes in the distinction between associations, the thro w ness, the accident of existence, and community. I have not gotten away from the point of Dewey's good as understood through his fear of the eclipse of the public. If we accept the logic of this argument, that individualism is about what we do uniquely an d deliberately with the outcomes of these myriad of associations, then it becomes essential not only to the formation of publics, but the development of the individual themselves, that the conversation the individual and the social have the nature of asso ciation be understood. That human flourishing is an understanding of the consequences of the associations we inhabit, a deliberateness. Community is the deliberateness of association and individualism is the deliberateness coming out of habit. Dewey's fe ar then is that this conversation wont happen. If there is majority opinion this is not automatically worrisome. Community's will reach these accepted ideas, and they will be formalized as laws. The regulations and laws of states is how Dewey attempts to e channeling or limiting of behavior towards moderately predictable consequences as opposed to a command theory which views law as the will of the ruler whom issues commands through their authori ty based on superior force (pp. 52, 53). Dewey's
49 conception views law as a confining of action, or a conditioning of action. In this theory law is a passive idea, as in the analogy we are offered, the banks of a river (pg. 54). It formulates long run conse quences and gives predictability to behavior and interaction. Consequence becomes organized as law as the distinction between pr ivate action and public action is formalized. Dewey finds this formalization of a public will necessary. Not just necessary for a functioning perspective, but this organization is existentially necessary. If a public is created through the consequence of a ssociation than its organization into a state depends upon the institutions which transmit the general will. Dewey's indirect response to Mill is: The very fact that the public depends upon consequences of acts and the perception of consequences, while it s organization into a state depends upon the ability to invent and employ special instrumentalities, shows how and why publics and political institutions differ widely from epoch to epoch and from place to place. To suppose that an a priori conception of t he intrinsic nature and limits of the individual on one side and the state on This response incorporates two ideas which I have touched upon. First, the relationship between a public and a state is such that we can not say that the state acts a certain way upon the public. The state comes from the organization of consequentially associated actors. Secondly, the temporal and geographic nature of states points to this idea that there can be n o universal good state. Therefore a liberal paradigm which suggests there is a formula for the proper limits of the state, or any other universalizing states vary with conditions of time and place, so do the concrete functions which should
50 be carried on by states. There is no antecedent universal proposition which can be laid down because of which the functions of a state should be limited or expanded. Their scope is so If we reconsider Mills argument, we are presented with the large contrast above, but we also see some interesting similarities which we can recount from the first chapter. Dewey and Mill shar e a concept of the good of liberty and interaction, but Mill's idea is about a sphere, and a responsive theory of consequence, while Dewey's is a formative principle. Where John Mill's fear is the tyranny of the majority, John Dewey re imagines this as an eclipse of the public. We are no longer afraid that there will be a dominant opinion, in fact we can discuss majority opinion as a notion of public will, instead we should fear that the conversation and deliberation which democracy affords us will not happ en because association becomes too complex for the individual to have an understanding of the consequences of associations and actions. This is the modern fear with Dewey articulates, that the only actors capable of understanding consequences are organizat ions which have interests in them. From this, we no longer have moral communities making themselves from recognizing harm and individuals creating themselves through their choices, but instead we have influence, by political bodies, by corporations, by met hods of interaction which are by their nature not deliberative. C ONCLUSION When I discuss Dewey's critique of ideological individualism and his theory of association and consequence together, it is almost surprising that Mill does not reach the same conclu sion. Mill and Dewey both propose experiments in living. Their ideas of the
51 good state are both experimentally determined. However, while for John Dewey individualism is part of this experimentation, John Mill finds it a necessary condition. The harm princ iple theorizes the relationship between the individual and society as a tension. That we have to protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority, but that we must protect society from the individual. This is an artificial separation. When we speak of a public private separation, it is not because of a condition of individuality which is not associated, and a condition which is. We are always as individuals, beings in association. It is because we can consider the consequences of actions having inti mate, and external natures. Publics are created when a shared experience of consequence is recognized, and states are at least in part formed when a response to internalize this concern is formalized. There is never the first condition of the naked individ ual. This re articulation of Mill's limit to liberty as a formative principle, instead of as a responsive one, frees us from the problem Mill has in making this theory material. When I demonstrated Mill's difficulty of enunciating specific harms, such as i n the case of drunkenness, it is because we can imagine an infinite number of consequences. The response of the state, the scope of its control over the drunkard, can not be made universal. It can only be determined experimentally, as the harm becomes real
52 C HAPTER III: P ROBLEM OF I NTERACTION The project of liberty is not only in establishing negative liberties. Mill's defense of freedom is not teleological, it is not an argument of freedom for freedom's sake. Instead, On Liberty demonstrates a dual utility. The two goods represented through Socrates, that liberty is a good for the individual because it will allow them to flourish, and that our use of our freedom in experimenting with styles of life, and confronting the public with diverse views, serv es a social utility. It is only from this reading of liberty as instrumental towards a utilitarian end, and not as an end in itself, that we can assert our problem with John Mill's aspirational project. This chapter raises three questions about Mill's pro ject, again dividing the good of liberty into its individual and social component. First, on Mill's individual good, the happiness we come to through reflection and the entertainment of the higher faculties, I will raise the issue of dignity. The reason we will find enjoyment in the higher classification of tastes. From this, I suggest that Mill's mechanism of diversity and interaction, the social good, fails to ensure the outcome he would have hoped for. This failure introduces a critique of both Mill's id ealization of civility, and of reflection. On the prior argument, I discuss the harm principle as a limit to this mechanism of confrontation; that there is a tension between allowing people their own beliefs and assertin g your own in a public dialogue, c on frontation versus coercion. The latter notion, the limit to reflectiveness, introduces the notion of habitus t hat the individual will not see their opinion or taste as constructed, but rather as natural. In this way, the utilitarian argument, the individu al and social good of liberty, becomes problematic. Both John
53 Mill's individual happiness, and collective utility, come back to highly social ideas. The structuring structure of taste is always before a confrontational civility, and the freedom of opinion is always in tension with it. J OHN M ILL S C IVILITY Diverse opinions and beliefs specifically the interaction of these beliefs is critical to Mill's argument. It is not just that we should allow the freedom of thought and expression, an idea of tolerance but that we have an obligation to confront the other. This is partially a response to a fear of the tyranny of the majority, but it goes beyond just this point. In the free experiment of living, we should argue for the right conception of the good life This logic transcends the state, it is no longer just an idea that the individual is in a relationship with the formal organization of society, the state is a mechanism through which the individual experiences the larger phenomena of interacting with a pub lic. It is not enough to say democracy, we must have an experience of civility which can, or can not exist in a democracy. What is important is the sphere of freedom for this interaction to occur, not what we call this space. I refer to this interaction of diverse beliefs Mill's civility. We do not mean civility in the sense of politeness, nor do we mean instead to suggest a rudeness, but instead a persuasion. Richard C. Sinopoli (1995) discusses the idea of Mill's civility in terms of this division betwee throated dialogue even a sharp, impolite dialogue as the occasion demands regarding the meaning of the good life. This is because concern for others' well being entails a concern that they use their liberty well, and this in turn obliges us to cajole and
54 persuade but not coerce others if we have reason to believe that they are not using it well. The duty to tolerate diverse conceptions of the good as articulated in Mill's harm princip le does not entail a duty to affirm the worth of such conceptions. Indeed, to feel oneself compelled toward affirmation and/or withholding of criticism is a failure to show proper concern for others' well being and hence a failure in one's moral responsibi ( Thick Skinned Liberalism p. 612). Here Mill's civility is not just about a freedom of thought and expression, a tolerance of diverse beliefs, but a responsibility of debate. There are two points to be made here. First, the obvious idea which adds to our mounting evidence that Mill's project of liberty is not just a leaving of the individual to themselves. Second, how this relates back to the harm principle. If we take his responsibility of critical dialogue to be central to liberal citizenship we have to understand a standard in which the end of liberty is not a freedom but a social project. That the dynamic nature of beliefs, and the experimentation in modes of living will lead to a good that is partially instrumental, in that the good is always c hosen and debated, an idea opposed to a social good of custom or habit. But the instrumentality of this idea is limited in the hierarchy of choices. Mill's ultimate and final definition of the good is his enunciation of the greatest happiness principle. Th e civil responsibilities of the liberal citizen obligates them to convince the other of a good that is that which will promote the greatest total happiness. worse life pla ns for the good utilitarian reason that doing so may, in the long run, When we reconsider what this means in terms of the harm principle we have to choose between harm as a sphere of noninterference or harm as som ething else entirely.
55 The problem with a Millian civility is that if the individual feels that they have come to their tastes freely, if they genuinely do prefer, as Sinopoli puts it, the push pin over poetry (p. 614) the lower over the higher, what is the balance between persuasion and coercion? In this chapter, we will discuss this by reintroducing the social component of this idea. Mill bases his reason of why the individual would not prefer the lower class of tastes, and why it is our social responsibil ity to convince them, on the dignity associated with the higher class of tastes. But this is immediately problematic. If we follow this argument linearly, that liberty is good because it allows diversity, and diversity is good because it leads to civility, and civility is good because it will force reflection, and reflection is good because it appeals to our higher faculties, and that the exercise of our higher faculties is good because it will lead us to the most profound happiness, we are left with a end to this social project that is just a notion of dignity. More directly, I will show that Mill's social project becomes problematic in that his social good becomes a concept of distinction, instead of happiness; and that the persuasion and cajoling he desir es from the mechanism of reflection will fail because of this idea at which I have hinted, the naturalization of tastes. C LASS AND C LASSIFICATION The presentation of civility in Mill's work is complicated by two ideas of human flourishing, the hierarchica l idea: tastes can be classified as higher and lower; and the liberal idea that an individual should be free to pursue their unique satisfaction. First this notion that the good is a way of life, happiness as eudaimonia. One should chose the life of Socrat es over the life of a pig.
56 If I am asked, what I mean by difference of quality in pleasures, or what makes one pleasure more valuable than another, merely as a pleasure, except its being greater in amount, there is but one possible answer. Of two pleasure s, if there be one to which all or almost all who have experience of both give a decided preference, irrespective of any feeling of moral obligation to prefer it, that is the more desirable pleasure... Now it is an unquestionable fact that those who are eq ually acquainted with, and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying, both, do give a most marked preference to the manner of existence which employs their higher faculties. ( Utilitarianism, p. 139). Mill sees a classification of pleasures, and that th is classification favors the higher faculties. This is not a unanimously accepted reading. The literature from the first chapter presented Mill in opposition to Bentham's notion of psychological hedonism. That Mill is a hierarchical empiricist. Schmidt Per i (2003), calls this a misreading of Mill. He argues argument in Utilitari anism is not a moral classification, but a manner to decide between two pleasures based on a quantity of pleasure. A higher quality in this reading, would suggest the more pleasurable. From what we've discussed in the first chapter, this reading seems prob lematic. The notion of quality for Mill is connected with the idea of higher faculties. It is not sufficient to take away from Utilitarianism a tautological argument which states: that which brings the most pleasure is that of a higher quality. Pleasure is an encumbered idea. It is contingent upon the ideas which we've been discussing, namely the cultivation of the individual: education. This is important to understand. Mill makes the principle Utilitarianism history, and art; and both of these we are told can be the inher itance of an individual born
57 The first tension in this idea is if we are to allow for individuals to chose for them selves, without the imposition of society's opinions, what is their good we can not defend an argument for differences in qualities of pleasures. This becomes more complicated. Mill in Utilitarianism distinguishes between habit and virtue. An act must be reflective to individual does the right thing because of a sufficient force of obligation, then we can not say the act is a will to virtue. Virtue must be cultivated into an independence. This idea of utility now has two requirements; the b est pleasures, and a will to virtue. Simply, not only must the individual have a preference toward the higher faculties, they must establish this independent of habit. Much of On Liberty is spent developing this thesis that the individual must be able to develop their self, and their opinions, without interference. We are told that there is an increasing control of society over the individual, through opinion and legislation, and that this is necessarily harmful (On Liberty, p.18) We are told that the exe rcise of choice is judgment, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference, are exercised only in making a choice. He who does anything because it is t he custom, makes model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which desires and impulses are not his own, has no character no more than a steam engine has a
58 (p. 89), and that as citizens we have more than an interest, but an obligation in confronting others over the quality of their choices. The answer is really rather simple. Mill's argument is not at odds with itself, we are not presented with a contradiction. It is instead that we are presented wit h an argument for the organization of society which lacks a self conscious discussion of status. It is not that the mechanism of class structure is ignored; on the contrary, Mill in other works discuses class explicitly. We can see this in the implications of his ideas, and in his discussion of himself candidly. In his Autobiography Mill claims that his ideas are a qualified socialism ( Commencement of the Most Valuable Friendship of My Life. My And as John Medearis (2005), J.E. Broadbent (1968), Wendy Sarvasy (1984) and many others have argued, Mill's utilitarianism and argument for social progress led him to a critique of class. This critique was aimed most directly at the landed classes. Medeari s (2005) in his defense of Mill as a rule utilitarian as opposed to an act utilitarian (a debate over whether individual acts or general rules should be used to judge the standard of utility (p. 136), claims that his notion of utility is a first principle (pp. 135, 136). Any ought questions must be applied to the claim from Utilitarianism that an action should lead to the greatest happiness. Clearly the organization of society in both Mill's and our time, was not in the interest of the greatest number of pe ople. A large part of this is the institution of private property. Naturally then, we must critique capitalism and
59 any particular right of property which on suffic ient consideration it judges to stand in the Chapters on Socialism p. 753). We should not be surprised, Mill never claims that freedom is correlated with capitalism or that liberty meant the right to own property We would have to willfully ignore the claim of: that which has the most utility for society is that which brings the greatest happiness to the largest number of individuals, to find it strange that Mill was critical of capitalism and the class of land ow ners. We see this again in Saravasy's (1984) defense of Mill's commitment to democracy. Until the late 1840s, as a democrat Mill believed only that "the portion of the poor might be made more tolerable" through education, voluntary use of birth control, a nd the end to primogeniture and entails. When he places himself within the socialist camp, he is revealing his confidence in a more comprehensive plan for social improvement that calls for a radical alteration of the property system ( J. S. Mill's Theory of Democracy for a Period of Transition between Capitalism & Socialism, 1984, p. 569). Mill's views on political class struggle profoundly influence his theory. But there is still this strange tension. At the same time that Mill is defending the working cla ss from the bourgeois and class of property owners, encouraging improved, universal education and extensions of suffrage, he is still opposed to the secret ballot and defends a pluralist voting mechanism in which votes would be allocated based upon levels of education and character (Saravasy 1984, p. 586). These elitist moments in Mill's thought have been defended by some theorists as an idea of maximizing the benefits of education (J.J. Miller 2003); and as a utilitarian idea (George Brodrick, Essays on Re form, 1867). Maybe more interesting for our discussion however, is H.S. Jones (1992) argument that Mill's plural voting idea is less typically elitist and more a concern that government be used to create the right public ethos. Mill saw government as socia lly educative. His
60 critique of the private ballot in this notion is not an elitist idea, but a concern that allowing a private ballot will lead people to thinking that a vote was a private concern, and not a social concern. A vote as a promotion of ones ow n interests instead of in the interests of a social project of the greatest happiness ( Mill as Moralist p. 293). Jones' idea that Mill's electoral pluralism is about a concern for a public interest instead of a private interest would fit with the idea tha t public communication would create individuals interested in a public and not just their own class and self interests. This reading makes sense in terms of a Millian civility. This is not the only view on Mill's liberalism, of course. When I posit above that Mill's discussion lacks a self conscious discussion of status, I mean this quite literally. His anxiety about democracy is surely about the tyranny of the majority, and his anxiety about secret ballots might be about a concern for the proper public et hos, but it is also explicitly about state education and a popular opinion creating a mediocrity ( On Liberty, p. 73). That a democracy wont produce greatness. Mill's pluralism lacks self consciousness here in two ways that we will try to understand in this chapter. His first principle, a concept of utility which promotes the greatest happiness, is based upon a notion of happiness which is tied to an idea of dignity and distinction; and Mill's defense of reflection is flawed in that the naturalizing force of the judgment of taste obscures class and status. V EBLEN : D ISTINCTION AND D IGNITY Mill wants individuals to chose for themselves, free from just custom or habit, but he wants them to choose correctly. It is this correctness which will be addressed in this
61 section. I argue that it is more that human nature is a machine to be built after a model more than Mill would suppose. The mechanism, this model of human nature, is the transmission of class and status; and the engine of this machine is the judgment of t aste. The distinction between the loss of consideration which a person may rightly incur by defect of prudence or of personal dignity, and the reprobation which is due to him for an offense against the rights of others, is not a merely nominal distinction. It makes a vast difference both in our feelings and in our conduct towards him, whether he displeases us in things in which we think we have a right to control him, or in things in which we know that we have not. If he displeases us, we may express our di staste, and we may stand aloof from a person as well as from a thing that displeases us; but we shall not therefore feel called on to make his life uncomfortable. We shall reflect that he already bears, or will bear, the whole penalty of his error; if he s poils his life by mismanagement, we shall not, for that reason, desire to spoil it still further: instead of wishing to punish him, we shall rather endeavor to alleviate his punishment, by showing him how he may avoid or cure the evils his conduct tends to bring upon him. He may be to us an object of pity, perhaps of dislike, but not of anger or resentment; we shall not treat him like an enemy of society: the worst we shall think ourselves justified in doing is leaving him to himself, If we do not interfer e benevolently by showing interest or concern for him. It is far otherwise if he has infringed the rules necessary for the protection of his fellow creatures, individually or collectively. The evil consequences of his acts do not then fall on himself, but on others; and society, as the protector of all its members, must retaliate on him; must inflict pain on him for the express purpose of punishment, and must take care that it be sufficiently severe. In the one case, he is an offender at our bar, and we are called on not only to sit in judgment on him, but, in one shape or another, to execute our own sentence: in the other case, it is not our part to inflict any suffering on him, except what may incidentally follow from our using the same liberty in the regu lation of our own affairs, which we allow to him in his (p. 87 88). Mill's idea of distaste, disgust, explicitly suggests an idea of exclusion. He suggest error. Tha society admits members into its practice through a display of tastes. Mill is closer to a 4, p. disgust suggests an exclusion, a distinction, and a naturalizati on When Mill finds the he
62 him, it is because of a violation of habitus. Distaste is an attack on what seems natural. This attack on the natural can be as violent and visceral as to make one sick, or simply discomforting. If this is not clear we can look more broadly at this sense. Taste projects two ideas the physical and the social sense. Taste as the bodily perception, and taste as critical preference. The taste of a ripe strawberry, of an exceptional glass of wine. Or, a distaste for violence in films. We see a man enter a room, dressed incorrectly, we from our tasteful position comment on the tastelessness of his decision. Taste and tact. We use the word taste to describe both sensory perceptiveness, and social perception. The strawberry is rotten, it is disgusting. We are sickened by this because it is unnatural. We have an expectation for the taste of the fruit. We spit it out. Disgust, gustare, dis tasteful. It should not be a surprise that we use the same word to describe the sensual and the social. The end of both is a taking in A becoming part of. We filter with our tongue, with our nose, that which we will allow to become part of us, to enter into us. Our se nse of taste allows us to say what has a place. And this is Mill's refusal from our bar. Here I will explore this idea of the judgment of taste through habitus, Bourdieu's concept of the structuring of the mind through disposition. This idea is not foreign to what we have already considered, and we will see how J.S. Mill and Bourdieu treat structuring structures similarly, for there are moments of similarity, and focus on where the latter concept breaks from prior, particularly the aesthetic disposition. Cl ass as an idea gets lost in this conversation. What class really expresses is this education of self. Class is not a thing we can point to. In reality (and I do not mean this metaphorically) we can only express class through the performance of this private
63 education, this social education. Even before the child receives any formal instruction they have learned manners and taste. And though this behavior, this performance, certainly influences the formal instruction they will receive, a notion we will get to in a later section, it immediately serves a purpose, or itself, is a distinction. Class is difference. This is not an innocent idea, and Mill does not present it as such. Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the count ry emanates from its class interests, and its feelings of class superiority. The morality between Spartans and Helots, between planters and negroes, between princes and subjects, between nobles and roturiers, between men and women, has been for the most pa rt the creation of these class interests and feelings: and the sentiments thus generated, react in turn upon the ( On Liberty, p. 10). There is an acknowledgment of class superiority here, but Mill treats this difference differently from Bourdieu, and Veblen before him. For Mill, class is largely about interest. This might be part of it. Interest may become part of a class. But I will show through Pierre Bourdieu's th eory that class is about distinction before it becomes about a specific interest. In On Liberty, and through his thought, Mill treats class as a political idea. It is about a relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is an economic idea. That interests divide us and that historically the political moment is a self interested one. But class is pre political. As Veblen argues, it is a spiritual moment, not a mechanical one ( Theory of the Leisure Class, p. 32). There is difference, distincti on, before there is interest. Before we get to Bourdieu and the social habitus, I will explain the concept of distinction which Bourdieu will take up from Veblen, as it relates to Mill's idea of happiness as dignity and virtue. Veblen's work focuses on the idea of a leisure class. This concept is rooted in a division of labor based on a principle of honorable and vulgar forms of employment. For
64 everyday work of getting a Theory of the Leisure Class, p. 22) is attached directly to the inferior classes. In this respect, class is observable through the rigidness of the available range of employment. Honor attaches itself to certain uses of time. War and spiritual employments were reserved for the upper classes of society; the classes which were more removed from the immediacy of survival. The institution of a leisure class is found in its best development at the higher stages of the barbarian culture; as, for ins tance, in feudal Europe or feudal Japan. In such communities the distinction between classes is very rigorously observed; and the feature of most striking economic significance in these class differences is the distinction maintained between the employment s proper to the several classes. The upper classes are by custom exempt or excluded from industrial occupations, and are reserved for certain employments to which a degree of honour attaches. Chief among the honourable employments in any feudal community i s warfare; and priestly service is commonly second to warfare. If the barbarian community is not notably warlike, the priestly office may take the precedence, with that of the warrior second. But the rule holds with but slight exceptions that, whether warr iors or priests, the upper classes are exempt from industrial employments, and this exemption is the economic expression of their superior rank (p. 21). So far, nothing here violates Mill's assumption of class as a mechanism of interest. It is not until we understand employment not as economic alone, but as an idea of status, that this argument becomes different. Through the emergence of a warlike is the outgrowth of an early discrimination between employments, according to which unworthy employments are those which are necessary everyday employments, the industrial; and worthy employ ments are tied up with an idea of violence, force, and exploit (p. 25). The division of exploit and industry is defined by industry as an effort that maker out of passive
65 With this distinction enunciated, and the idea of industry clearly separated from an idea of expl community, and man, for his own utility becomes concerned with his esteem. As a non abstracted idea, honor comes from proving worth to the community, ones prowess for exploit. This sequence of development from primitive, peaceful societies, to predatory li culture is therefore conceived to come on gradually, through a cumulative growth of predatory aptitudes habits, and traditions this growth being due to a change in the c ircumstances of the group's life, of such a kind as to develop and conserve those traits of human nature and those traditions and norms of conduct that make for a predatory rather than a The predatory moment gives rise to the need for distinction. But society does not remain this simple. At some point one, a bracketing off of this moment occurs. Honor is no longer just about the man's ability to distinguish himself as a hunter, to demonstrate his skill in exploit. We move into an ep och in which the individual makes themselves distinct through a different mechanism. By the nineteenth century, a dignified citizen makes themselves conspicuous not by demonstrating their skill as the best hunter, but instead by translating this idea of ex ploit into a modern mechanism. There are two parts to this, conspicuous consumption, and conspicuous leisure, here I focus on leisure. We make our study of poetry and philosophy
66 socially visible. This communicates that we have the time to spend on pursuing these ends, time that is not spent on the vulgar, material necessity of life, and it communicates that we identify that these are the honorable employments, uses of time. We make ourselves distinct from the vulgar tastes and from the vulgar class, by comm unicating our status through conspicuous leisure. If we allow the connection of this idea of exploit in predatory culture with a contemporary notion, Mill's notion of human excellence reads very similar to Veblen's notion of honor. Rather, what remains ho norable, the dignified forms of employment, are the pursuits of the mind. Mental cultivation, poetry and art, do not have too much to do with the material livelihood. When Mill in his Utilitarianism ake him happy than an individual of an inferior type, ( Utilitarianism, p. 139), Mill is explicitly incorporating dignity into his discussion of satisfaction. He states that the unwillingness to lowness appropriate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form lowness could not be other than temporarily an object of desire. This does not answer the question. What gives the actor this sense of dignity? Dignity is a force influencing our style of life. Dignity is our measure of our self against a dominant, and natural style. We wish ourselves n ot to the distasteful individual. When Mill says that happiness is properly understood as the satisfaction of the higher faculties, what he (perhaps accidentally) argues is that satisfaction is a function of social emulation. This might be too much to clai m all at once, so we can parse this idea.
67 Mill connects pleasure with dignity, an idea of honor, not subsistence, exploit, not industrial. Mill sees classes as being different, but he does not discuss it as difference itself. And when he does discuss it as an idea of behavior and taste, it never becomes his point. Veblen, and later Bourdieu, see class not only about a self interestedness, but a distinction. Not about politics and economics, or at least not alone, but about the transmission of cultural capit al. Rather, we have to understand class as a thing before economic and political status, a thing which reproduces itself, and has a domin ance, independent of politics, d eeper than politics. It is expressed in the naturalness of lived experience. To explain this point we can come back to the notion of habitus. N ATURALIZATION OF T ASTE I have raised two questions toward Mill's mechanism of civility and reflection. That the harm principle limits the amount to which we can convince the other that their choice is not the right choice without h arming them through coercion, a notion that we have a social obligation to confront our fellow man over their idea of the good, but also that we must stop before we are coercing them. Next, I questioned the basis that Mill gi ves for his hierarchy of taste, basing the individual good of this social mechanism on an idea of happiness that I have shown to complicated by an idea of dignity, and distinction. But the quality of these critiques relies on a third idea. There is a probl em with the critique I have just raised. Mill creates this hierarchy, the classification of tastes and the measure of an action, but his mechanism of civility would suggest it is just one argument for the good. Mill's utilitarian morality is here balanced with his confrontational civility. The interactive and dynamic nature of Millian communication includes the condition that
68 what society finds to be its good should be debated. As long civility is understood in this way, a hierarchy or classification of cho ices is not elitist, its one argument for the good. Because of Mill's civility, he can not be pinned down by a critique of his use of dignity, the idea that certain actions can be honorable while others become vulgar. It becomes part of the larger framewo rk of interaction and diversity. The good should be debated, and if a one feels that this hierarchy is wrong, it is the obligation of the individual to confront their fellow citizen on their concept of the good. The only idea which problematizes Mill's dis cussion of higher and lower pleasures becomes non consequential civility. Introducing habitus, if tastes and pleasures are taken to be natural, something chosen freely, then the individual will not partake in a civil deliberation about the good. To this I introduce the naturalization of taste to the discussion of civility and suggest that this mechanism Mill aspires for may fail in that taste is an exclusive idea, once of distinction not inclusion, and secondly that we feel our choices to be our tastes, and in this will find it harmful to be confront a Millian civility of hierarchical classifications. Habitus, in its simplest is something like the internalization of the external world. It is the structuring of the mind through disposition; the anchoring of culture in the individual. In a way it is the taken for granted, a subverted social schema. This concept is not unique to Bourdieu. His usage of this idea borrows from Max Weber. This is most the objective distance from necessity grows, lifestyle increasingly becomes the product of what Weber calls a stylization of life, a systematic commitment that orients and organizes the most diverse
69 practices the choice of vintage or a cheese or the dec oration of a holiday home in the countr 56), a system of tastes which is not fully conscious but is always communicating information about a person. This classificatory system, which is the product of the internalization of the str ucture of social space, in the form in which it impinges through the experience of a particular position in that space, is, within the limits of economic possibilities and impossibilities (which it tends to reproduce in its own logic), the generator of pra ctices adjusted to the regularities inherent in a condition. It continuously transforms necessities into strategies, constraints into preferences, and, without any mechanical determination, it generates the set of 'choices' constituting lifestyles, which d erive their meaning, i.e., their value, from their position in a system of oppositions and correlations (p. 175). practices and the perception of practices, but also a s tructured structure: the principle of division into logical classes which organizes the perception of the social world is itself a structuring mechanism introduce s a question of awareness. Habitus is interesting because it is an unaware awareness. To be structured by an influence, an agent must become awa re, t o be impressed. But Bourdieu suggests an illusory consciousness. The primary cognition of the social field is a misrecognition (p. 172). The perception of lifestyle is obscured by the naturalizing force of taste. He defines this in The Logic of Practice (1990) as: "The habitus embodied history, internalized as a second nature and so forgotten as history is th e active presence of the whole past of which it is the 65). The agent does not recognize the perceived differences of symbolic and legitimate capital as class dominance, and the extent to which there is class consciousness it is a system of signs, of symbols, it is superficial and metaphoric. The misperception is in the classifying of taste. If we conceptualize of lifestyle as a choice, and not a a product of constraints and as a transmission of class, than we allow the
70 naturalization to m likes what he has, that is, the properties actually given to him in the distributions and Distinction, p. 175). Here we begin to see how this relates to Mill's notion of reflective choice. If for Mill, a virtuous choice must be made independent of habit, than we must question if this choice can be made at all. We must assume the pervasive naturalness of culture, the always already. The experience of living gives us our sense of our self which we then project forward into future decisions. This idea of a self is so natural to us, that any free projection of ourselves forward is contingent upon this past structuring. Reflection is a foldin g back onto something which is already a projection of something before. And, to keep this based in our social idea, and to not detour into an ontological discussion of being, I reintroduce the idea of taste as an expression of status. Our respect for our self, our construction of self, must be compared to something. I have said that all taste is fundamentally a distaste a refusal, so too dignity is as much an idea of what we wish not to be as it is what we aspire too. It is not an insignificant moment tha n when Mill says of better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied ; better to be a moment of independence from Dignity for Mill is ab out difference even if it is not explicitly noted. There is the pig and the fool, and then there is Socrates. There is only a self in that we can compare our dignity and satisfaction to an ideal. This ideal becomes the concept of a dominant cultural aesthe tic.
71 This is the first idea, taste as an exclusive mechanism. Reintroducing Veblen's use of the distance from necessity, or exploit, Bourdieu frames the aesthetic sense similarly. ralize ordinary or to display the aesthetic disposition, the agent must be able to devote their self to something other than sustenance and the immediate necessities of life. Just as art requires a separation from vulgar employment, because from its nature it is exploitative, so is the appreciation of art. To have an aesthetic disposition we must have leisure. Here I will split the idea of exclusion into three categories of cost. The firs t is the luxury of having the time to develop the right tastes, the conspicuous use of leisure that I introduced through Veblen's argument. The second cost of the right taste is a material economic one. If the first idea is about sacrificing economic poten tial to pursue the pleasure of the higher faculties, the second cost is the literal cost of this. The cost of education. Of travel, of teachers, of books, of consuming these conspicuous goods But the third articulation of cost is the one we focus on here. It is a social cost. The exclusive idea of taste is best communicated through a discussion of this kind of class distinction. Taste is not just connected to an economic idea, we have to explore the transmission of class and status that is expressed in the structure of the judgment of tastes. The social idea of cost of the aesthetic disposition is the material symptom of becoming. More specifiably, it can not be empirically shown that taste is this exclusive mechanism, but it can be shown that certain cult ural symptoms are acquired differently by individuals originating in different social classes. These are performative symptoms, manners and language. This introduces the transmission of class and the
72 institutionalization of status through education. This e lement of this naturalization can be observed in the behaviors of children. Bourdieu suggests that these symptoms of class lead to different treatments in the education system and levels of success in society. The well behaved child will get a good educati on, the distracting ill mannered child will be treated differently by the instructor, will be disciplined, but these characteristics are correlated with status and are not somehow intrinsic to character or related to wealth alone. One of the most obvious, and interesting is the acquisition and use of language. Subtle difference in how an individual speaks is an indication of class. This indication of origin is hard to escape because even the agent who refines his speech, and his manners, carries with them t he experience, treatment. We can think back to the concept of habitus. This refinement is a taking to seriously when you've forgotten everything... Self made men, they cannot have the familiar relation to cu lture which authorizes the liberties and audacities of those who are linked to I have raised this idea of cost as an idea of transmission of status for a reason. It communicates both that there is a c ost that can not be paid, that even education or an idea of democratic equality, can not lead to anyone being able to afford the higher class of tastes. As Bourdieu says, taste is not to be confused with a gastronomy. It is not a set of rules to be learned not a grammar but instead a natural gift 2 ( Distinction p. 68). Mill's fear that democracy will produce democracy is here unfounded. Excellence will always 2 This choice of the word gift is not acc idental or metaphoric. It communicates the sense that a proper recognition of the dominant aesthetic is transmitted between generations. It is in this sense literally a gift that the parent gives the child.
73 be protected by distinction. Bourdieu discusses the ideas of culture and popular religion togethe r as pre relation to culture owe their inimitable character to the fact that, like popular religion as seen by Groethuysen, they are acquired, pre verbally, by early immersion in a world of that taste is more correlated with social origin than education levels (p. 76). An agent can acquire or imitate taste to an extent, but its inimitable in th e sense that appreciation does not subvert the underlying fact that judgments of taste as expressed in the social and cultural field are not about aesthetic difference as much as they are about status distinction. To continue with this religious parallel, we can further explore the idea of the aristocratic monopoly of taste. Analogously to how the church protects its sacred authority, the dominant class protects its aesthetic. It does not have to fight the petite bourgeois to keep this authority, because th ey aspire to it, and the churches of the traditional aesthetic authority decides what is sanctimonious, and what is popular (p. 85). The higher class of tastes is constructed as unattainable for those not brought up within it. Even though Bourdieu suggests that there are some spheres in which education may influence preference such as music and film ultimately form his empirical discussion All we have left to say here is how this naturalness relates to a Millian civility. This idea we discussed immediately above, how taste is an idea of class and the transmition of status, is not a point of conflict for individuals in association. Instead, the way Bourdieu suggests that it works is that taste, our indivi dual choices and preferences, naturalizes real differences. If one agent develops a taste for inexpensive beer, while the
74 other has a gift, an instinct for fine wine, it is imagined as an innocent difference. Free Choice of preference in this way neutraliz es what could otherwise be a symbol of class dominance. The ideology of natural taste owes its plausibility and its efficacy to the fact that, like all the ideological strategies generated in the everyday class struggle, it naturalizes real differences, c onverting differences in the mode of acquisition of culture into differences of nature; it only recognizes as legitimate the relation to culture (or language) which bears true culture is nature a new mystery of immaculate conception (p. 68). Mill suggests that reflection will lead the individual to freely choose from his cl assification of pleasures the higher, that they will recognize or appreciate the rewards of mental cultivation, this does not consider the mechanism of naturalization. Mill's idea of what are the better pleasures is very likely part of this conversation be tween the individual and their social origin, but this is not our point. Instead I argue that if the exclusive idea that I introduced above is real, that we would, as Mill says, deny people from our bar, to ignore those we find distasteful, and that our ta stes become perceived as our nature, Mill's civility will not lead to the kind of argument for the good he desires. Not just because one does not want to be told that their tastes are lower than an other's, but because the personal quality of this process of choice, the individual will feel they should have the liberty to prefer whichever taste they find to be their natural preference. That it is a harm to them that they be told otherwise, or are prevented from freely pursuing their own pleasures. In Mill's own discussion of this interaction of diverse opinions, he says that he wants the individual to be able to freely choose, but his utilitarian argument bases the end good as the greatest happiness, and for Mill, the greatest happiness relies upon an idea t hat one chose poetry over pushpins.
75 C ONCLUSION By addressing John Mill's notion of confrontational civility in its relation to his hierarchy of tastes, I have introduced a problem to his individual project of happiness, and the social component of this ar gument. Through Thorstein Veblen's historical argument of honor I have suggested that Mill's utilitarian morality is complicated by a tendency he himself explains as dignity, that his classification of pleasures is more about distinction than it is about a n inherent happiness that comes from them. From Pierre Bourdieu's theory of habitus I have asserted that Mill's mechanism of reflection would fail to over come this tendency for real differences in status to be experienced as natural differences. In this w e must reconsider Mill's project of liberty as utilitarian.
76 C ONCLUSION Through this discussion of John Stuart Mill's theory of liberty and his broader argument about the proper relationship between the individual and society I have attempted t o raise three main issues. First, the concept of liberty, both in general and in Mill's body of work, is more complicated than just leaving the individual to her or himself. Separating the value of liberty into its individual and and social components reve als a richer and more nuanced presentation of the good of liberty, which I used to discuss both Mill's moral utilitarianism and his mechanism of confrontational civility. Second, I brought John Dewey into conversation with John Mill to show both how the ha rm principle can be read similarly to Dewey's theory of consequence and association, and to give the critique of ideological individualism and a responsive theory of communication instead of a formative one. Finally, I questioned whether Mill's diversity a nd public debate would be consequential or whether it would happen at all if we consider the good and the judgment of actions and tastes to be about social distinction instead of a utilitarian hierarchy. For this argument I brought in Thorstein Veblen's no tion of conspicuousness and distinction as well as Pierre Bourdieu' s theory of habitus and the naturalization of tastes. I chose these authors to discuss the value of liberty because I believe Mill to be one of the most influential and misunderstood libe ral theorists, and because the others problematized this idea in two different ways. The pragmatist argument suggests that liberty is being framed in the wrong way by Mill, but still the value of liberty is an idea of individual human flourishing. The stru cturalist theory takes the notions of association and
77 transmission that we see in Dewey and makes them more explicit. Where Dewey sees individualism as an expression coming out of association, Bourdieu sees this external performance of self naturalizing re al social differences. The problem understanding the social and individual good of liberty is that Mill's argument omits a self aware discussion of class and status which is inherently pre political. I have chosen to focus on these questions, but these wer e not the only potential directions for this project. There are two obvious focuses that could be valuable to this discussion of liberty. This thesis could have spent more energy discussing the differences between Mill, Dewey, and Bourdieu's theories of ed ucation, pointing out the similarities they all see in the molding of the individual through this mechanism. Second, it would be valuable to understand how Mill and Dewey both discuss the public discourse component of their theories by analyzing contempora ry discourse theorist. Notably, Jurgen Habermas has been compared to Mill because of their notions of civility. Here we can briefly consider this comparison. Martin Morris (2009) constructs a parallel between a Habermasian and Millian communicative intera ction. The rational individual that Mill creates in his theory is created by the freedom to reject or accept claims of validity. We can see this in his concept of liberty as a liberty to decide for oneself. Thus the importance of a sphere of liberty. Even the notion of action, limited by the harm principle, is still a freedom to chose for oneself, with the consequence of the choice expressed through the response of the public, either through law or persuasion. Rather, what Mill creates is not a system of to tal freedom, but one of rationalism. Even limited possibilities are reasonable. This limit to freedom is a social limit. We as a public decide the proper sphere of freedom of action based upon this theory of consequence. From this, what the public is reall y, is a sphere of
78 consensus. We decide what we find harmful, and what we deem valuable, based on falsifiable claims, based on communicative interaction. Morris argues that Mill and Habermas share a principle of consequence of communication, the shaping thr ough reason of the public sphere. However, as Morris explains, Habermasian communication is different in that it is not inherently truth seeking (S ocial Justice and Communication p. 149). For a defense of this idea we can borrow from Habermas' The Theory of Communicative Action (1985). Habermas asks what do we mean when we say a person is rational or interacting with another rationally. He argues here that we assume rationality to be closely tied to an idea of knowledge. This is an idea of communication, a nd not how speaking and acting subjects (p. 8). To understand this idea, we must in a way look at the objective goal of communication. There is a marked difference here. For both Mill and Habermas, the importance of communication is the process, but Mill has to assign a utility to his process, an idea of happiness, because his communication is not ultimately instrumental. We can analyze how Ha bermas himself states this, and how Morris handles this comparison. Mill's device of interaction and reflection is once of communicative rationality, about reason giving unity to the world, than we can apply Habermas' definition to Mill. communicative rationality carries with it connotations based ultimately on the central experience of the unconstrained, unifying, consensus bringing force of argumentative speech, in which different participants overcome their merely subjective views and, owing to the mutuality of rationally motivated conviction, assure themselves of both the unity of the objective world and the inter subjectivity of the life The
79 Theory of Communicative Action p. 10). This sounds like Mill's goal. This also explain s why the first condition of this reflective process for Mill would have to be the liberty of thought and opinion. Each participant of argumentation must enter the process in a symmetrical relationship. We must presuppose an ideal speech situation for this mechanism of rationality to be compelling (Morris 2009, p. 149), and this is Mill's argument for a social organization in which actors communicate without the coercion of public opinion or dogmatic ideas. But there is still a problem here. Morris (2009) a rgues that where Habermas' consensus theory improves theoretically on Mill's communicative rationality is that the democratic process of consensus, as apposed to Mill's, requires no ethical justification, no value judgment. This idea is present in both Hab ermas and Seyla normative thrust of rational argument oriented toward mutual understanding and (2009, p. 150). Benhabib's own argument in Situating the Self (1992), is that the emphasis is less relationships within which reasoned agreement as a way of life can flouri (p. 38). Whether or not we accept these comparisons, what is clear from this discussion is the richness of thought on the relationship between the individual and society. Mill's On Liberty is a lasting testament to this anxiety about the p roper sphere of liberty as well as what obligations the individual has to the public. I do not attempt to answer this question which, as Mill establishes, is at least as old as Socrates. I have however articulated the complexity and limits to John Mill's a ttempt.
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