Learn more about Mill’s life, philosophy, and accomplishments in this article.

In ethics, Mill was an influential utilitarian, but he can't claim the same sort of credit there as in political theory. He was prominent as a publicist in the reforming age of the 19th century, and he remains of lasting interest as a logician and an ethical theorist. John Stuart Mill, English philosopher, economist, and exponent of Utilitarianism. Mill, in his autobiography, declared that his intellectual development was due primarily to the influence of two people: his father, James Mill, and his wife. In political philosophy, practically everyone: Mill was the founder of modern libertarianism. I take this biographical sketch from volume 43 of Great Books of the Western World: John Stuart Mill 1806 to 1873. Apart from this bequest of thought from Coleridge, now considerably attenuated by time, the only British philosophic influence, of a regular, logical, and professedly systematic kind, that now struggles conspicuously with that of Mill, is the influence left by the late Sir William Hamilton.

The influence that his works exercised upon contemporary English thought can scarcely be overestimated, nor can there be any doubt about the value of the liberal and inquiring spirit with which he handled the great questions of his time. Mill was a man of extreme simplicity in his mode of life.

Utilitarian thought has roots in ancient philosophy, and its modern formulation owes more to Bentham than to Mill.

Beyond that, however, there has been considerable difference of opinion about the enduring merits of his philosophy.