Mill-Macaulay Debate on Government

This is a Reading List based upon a Liberty Fund Conference on “Liberty and Responsibility in Constitutional Political Economy: The Mill-Macaulay Debate”.

Liberty and Responsibility in Constitutional Political Economy: The Mill-Macaulay Debate

Topic

These readings explore the infamous dispute between James Mill and Thomas Macaulay over Mill’s worst-case model of government (Mill modeled government as akin to a “slave-driver”) and the alleged incongruence of Mill’s worst-case theory of government (human nature is uniformly self-interested) with his advocacy of representative democracy (extension of the suffrage and annual parliaments alike).

Guide to the Readings

Editions used:

See also in the Online Library of Liberty:

For additional reading see:

Session I: Every man a knave

David Hume, Essays, Moral, Political and Literary

James Madison, Federalist

Lance Banning’s Liberty and Order

James Mill, Ulitarian Logic and Politics (London: Jack Lively & John Rees, ed., 1820).

  • Essay on Government, pp. 55-72

James Mill’s Political Writings, "Reply to Macaulay (1835), pages 304-314 

Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan, The Reason of Rules

Session II: Government as slave-driver

James Mill, Ulitarian Logic and Politics (London: Jack Lively & John Rees, ed., 1820).

  • Essay on Government, pp. 72-95

Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay, The Miscellaneous Writings of Lord Macaulay, vol. 1, (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860).

Session III: Liberty and the ‘lure’ of the off-diagonal

Westminster Review (attributed to T. Perronet Thompson), “Greatest Happiness Principle,” pages 133-149 - [See Utilitarian Logic and Politics, ed. Jack Lively and John Rees]

Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay, The Miscellaneous Writings of Lord Macaulay, vol. 1, (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860).

Session IV: Virtue, Sympathy, and Rules

Westminster Review, “Edinburgh Review and the ‘Greatest Happiness Principle’,” pages 181-191, and 227-245 - [See Utilitarian Logic and Politics, ed. Jack Lively and John Rees]

Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay, The Miscellaneous Writings of Lord Macaulay, vol. 1, (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860).

Session V: Constitutional Political Economy: Preaching

Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan, The Reason of Rules

James M. Buchanan’s Choice, Contract, and Constitutions, pages 148-154, and 267-276 

Session VI: General Discussion

 

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