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Reforming LiberalismJ.S. Mill's Use of Ancient, Religious, Liberal, and Romantic Moralities$
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Robert Devigne

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300112429

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300112429.001.0001

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On Liberty: The Summum Bonum of Modern Liberalism

On Liberty: The Summum Bonum of Modern Liberalism

(p.163) Chapter 6 On Liberty: The Summum Bonum of Modern Liberalism
Reforming Liberalism

Robert Devigne

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses what can be gleamed from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty in relation to the topic of modern liberalism. Modern liberal thought does not center on human perfection or the best life. Instead, it focuses on a sense of toleration that was born out of a horror at the religious wars. It is precisely because of this tradition that liberal political philosophy has generally resisted views that there is a summum bonum, or best way of life. It is a fear of liberal thinkers that this notion of what is best could grant authorities the unconditional right to impose beliefs and practices on citizens in order to support that best way of life. Thus the chapter discusses the arguments that surround this summum bonum of modern liberalism and what role Mill and On Liberty played into this context.

Keywords:   John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, modern liberalism, human perfection, toleration, religious wars, summum bonum, best way of life

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