A System of Logic (1843)

A System of Logic is Mill’s most comprehensive and systematic philosophical work, elaborating his inductive method, which helped to free the empirical sciences from the rigidity of analysis by way of syllogisms. Syllogisms are arguments grounded in general principles, in which two premises are used to deduce a third premise, or conclusion. In A System of Logic, Mill breaks away from this age-old practice and instead proposes the use of a form of logic derived from the principles of the natural sciences. It was first published in 1843 and immediately enjoyed a wide circulation, going through numerous editions. Mill himself made substantial changes in the third edition, published in 1850, and the eighth edition, published in 1872, a year before his death.

The SparkNotes guide Selected Works of John Stuart Mill offers one section of Summary & Analysis of A System of Logic.

Principles of Political Economy (1848)

Principles of Political Economy was first published in 1848, and it went through various editions; the final edition was the seventh, which appeared in 1871. Political Economy is the term 19th-century writers use to refer to the study of what we today call macroeconomics, though its practitioners, such as Adam Smith, Mill, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx, were more philosophical and less empirical in their methods than modern economists. In this book, Mill examines the fundamental economic processes on which society is based: production, the distribution of goods, exchange, the effect of social progress on production and distribution, and the role of government in economic affairs.

The SparkNotes guide Selected Works of John Stuart Mill offers one section of Summary & Analysis of A System of Logic.

Utiliatarianism (1861)

Mill, whose influence on thought in the 19th century was vast, wrote Utilitarianism to provide support for the value of utilitarianism as a moral theory, and to respond to misconceptions about it. Mill defines utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” The theory of utilitarianism has been criticized for many reasons. Critics hold that it does not provide adequate protection for individual rights, that not everything can be measured by the same standard, and that happiness is more complex than reflected by the theory. Mill's essay represents his attempt to respond to these criticisms, and thereby to provide a more complex and nuanced moral theory.

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