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Title: Interpreting Mill's 'On Liberty', 1831-1900
Author: Conway, Stephanie
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 7323
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2019
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Many discussions of 'On Liberty' fail to consider the reception of Mill's political ideas during the nineteenth-century, which is significant for revising our understanding of Mill, his thoughts and how they have been interpreted. Accordingly, this thesis is a wide-ranging study of the English reception of Mill's political thought from 1831 to 1900. Throughout this period, Mill's public image went through incredible changes due to the cumulative effect of almost seventy years of engagement, absorption and dismissal. Bringing together a variety of reactions to Mill's texts from the 1830s, particularly On Liberty (1859), including periodicals, plays, poems and speeches, this thesis unveils the reactions of his commentators and the development of Mill's controversial reputation during the nineteenth-century, challenging both the traditional and revisionary view of Mill scholarship. I structure this discussion in accordance with five key aspects which deeply influenced Mill's thought. The first was discussion concerning a collectivist theory of liberty in the 1830s. The second considers how scandalous On Liberty was, where I propose that Mill's critics misjudged the significance of this essay. The third concerns the powers of the state in promoting a tolerant society and removing restraints upon liberty. The fourth was the lack of clarity on the state's prerogatives over the individual. Finally, public support for the family as a model for social progress and the framework for an equal community, one where everyone played a special role and liberty surpassed all distinctions such as the private or public sphere. This thesis critically examines how contemporary responses to On Liberty stepped over the importance of Mill's reception, which in turn contributes to a fuller understanding of Mill and his political thought.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: John Stuart Mill ; On Liberty ; History of Political Thought