Mill's Evolutionary Theory of Justice: Reflections on Persky

Utilitas 32 (2):131-146 (2020)
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Abstract
Joseph Persky's excellent book, The Political Economy of Progress: John Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism, shows that J. S. Mill's support for socialism is a carefully considered element of his political and economic reform agenda. The key thought underlying Persky's argument is that Mill has an ‘evolutionary theory of justice’, according to which the set of institutions and practices that are appropriate to one state of society should give way to a new set of institutions as circumstances change and the people themselves improve. However, Persky does not spend a great deal of time discussing Mill's theory of reform, in particular the principles he believes should guide our reform efforts. Reflecting on these principles – notably his principle of impartiality or equal treatment – shows the consistency of Mill's thought over time.
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