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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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John Stuart Mill: The Greening of the Liberal Heritage

John Stuart Mill: The Greening of the Liberal Heritage

(p.189) 10 John Stuart Mill: The Greening of the Liberal Heritage
Engaging Nature

Piers H. G. Stephens

The MIT Press

Piers H. G. Stephens discusses John Stuart Mill and, by distinguishing Mill’s brand of individualism from possessive individualism, concludes that liberal individualism is not necessarily opposed to environmentalism. Challenging a common criticism that Mill’s essay “Nature” sanctions human conquest of nature, Stephens argues that the essay actually critiques of the use of nature to support conservative, religiously based ethics. Stephens also highlights Mill’s embrace of a stationary-state economy, his willingness to accept regulation of the economy, and his support for small-scale agriculture and land preservation. More fundamentally, Mill, who had affinities with Romanticism, rejects the self-interested, economistic individualism espoused by Jeremy Bentham and others and instead posits an individualism, or individuality, that is relational, complex, and oriented toward natural spiritedness. Mill also connects appreciation of nonhuman nature to the development of character. Millian individualism thus suggests a strong affinity between freedom and diversity on the one hand and ecological consciousness on the other.

Keywords:   John Stuart Mill, “Nature”(Mill), Principles of Political Economy (Mill), environmental political theory, liberalism, individualism, Jeremy Bentham, utilitarianism, Romantic movement, agrarianism

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