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Let Me Make My Peace with Mill

By Pedro Schwartz

John Stuart Mill was my companion for more than three years, while I was writing my dissertation on what I called his New Political Economy (1965, 1972). Every generation, every school of economists, has the ambition to rewrite economics. The case of Mill was a special one. Analytically speaking he was the last of the great English classics, but as a political economist he was the first of the moderate socialists. His Principles of Political Economy (1848) made reformist socialism respectable in his country. In American terms, he was a 'liberal' economist of the best kind, theoretically precise and politically radical. However, Mill cannot be understood merely as an economist. It is enough to pick some of his principal writings in the different fields of philosophy to see that an evaluation of his legacy must take a wider perspective. Thus, his System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (1843) was a polemic against the kind of metaphysical and intuitive philosophy that was b...

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