Mill on what is Philosophical Radicalism

  1. Radicals subscribed to Hartley’s metaphysics, namely, the view that the contents of our consciousness originate in experiences caused by externals objects (Empiricism) and associated in the mind by quasi-mechanical laws of the mind (associationism)
  2. Radicals asserted that our response to these external stimuli is guided by the desire to maximize pleasure and to minimize pain (Bentham’s psychological hedonism)
  3. The belief that national economies grow faster and better under conditions of competition and minimal government interference (Ricardo’s political Economy)
  4. The malthusian belief that population growth was outstripping the food supply. Malthus’s views on population were interpreted to mean “securing full employment at high wages to the whole labouring population through a voluntary restriction of the increase of their number (birth control)
  5. Radicals advocated greater freedom in relationship between men and women, accompanied by a lessening of sexual obsession.
  6. The most important political assumption was that representative government and freedom of discussion led to a clearer conception of the public interest and to the maximization of social welfare.
  7. Radicals also favored utopian social engineering based upon the presupposition of environmental determinism (James Mill fundamental doctrine was the formation of all human character by circumstances through the universal principle of Association, and the consequent unlimited possibility of improving the moral and intellectual condition of mankind by education)
  8. Radicals opposed “asceticism and priestcraft”, both for being in conflict with the doctrine of psychological hedonism and for undercutting the possibility of utopian social engineering.

Source; Capaldi p49


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