Comprehending the polity : John Stuart Mill and the utility of the whole
Steinbruner, Maureen S.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This study presents a theory about John Stuart Mill's idea of the polity. The analysis traces Mill's concept through key works, showing how he was attempting to develop an understanding of the processes that co-constitute political units, patterns of human behavior, and forms of social organization. It focuses on his commitment to a naturalist ontology and epistemology, his view of humans as in and of nature, yet uniquely capable of rational self-discipline and other-regard. What Mill was trying to do becomes more intelligible in the context of 21st century humanistic and scientific views that see orders of things - atoms, species, selves, cultures - as composed, made functionally unitary by circumstances. Mill's political positions read as consistent in a framework that relates individual utility to a distinct but not independent utility of the whole. Mill proposed a method of investigating this relationship as reflected in characteristic patterns of thought and behavior, a method - political ethology - that has much in common with contemporary inquiry into the role of group variation in the evolution of human minds and cultures. Mill's theorizing provides a model on which disparate discourses can draw to contest understandings of the nature, process and phenomenon of political unitization, for both analytic and normative purposes.
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