Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gibson, Kevin W.

Second Advisor

Starr, William C.

Third Advisor

South, James B.


Mill has traditionally been seen as the archetypal liberal philosopher based on his promotion of the ''sovereign" self. Liberal in the classical sense denoted one who stood for the primacy of individual freedom over against the masses. In nineteenth century Europe, the term often stood for freedom from church and state authority, the reduction of the power of royalty and aristocracy, capitalism (free enterprise economics), and the development of the individual as free as possible from the interference of others. In expressing bis own view of the individual's right to liberty, Mill says, "That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Again, Mill reiterates that be would "authorize the subjection of individual spontaneity to external control only in respect to those actions of each which concern the interest of other people. So the individual has freedom to do what he wants, so long as it doesn't adversely affect others. In attempting to pinpoint Mill's liberalism. he is widely quoted as saying, "Over himself over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign, and this quote, taken in context, accurately portrays the great importance which Mill places on individual autonomy, or self-rule...



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