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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Mill and Rousseau: Utility and Rights

Mill and Rousseau: Utility and Rights

(p.346) 17 Mill and Rousseau: Utility and Rights
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines some differences between rights-based and utilitarian defenses of democracy by referencing to John Stuart Mill and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Since the early 1960s, Mill and Rousseau have been regarded as theorists of “participatory democracy,” defenders of a classical ideal of citizen virtue and public spirit who could still teach us something about the point of democratic government. The chapter first explains a rights-based theory of democracy and its emphasis on questions of legitimacy and authority before considering how the account of Rousseau and Mill seem to be at odds with the account of the connection between rights and democracy, on the one hand, and between utility and democracy on the other. It suggests that Rousseau's ethics are fundamentally the ethics of natural rights, whereas Mill's ethics are fundamentally utilitarian.

Keywords:   democracy, John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, participatory democracy, legitimacy, authority, rights, utility, ethics, natural rights

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