Mill And Friedman: Different Only In Their Details

1971 words - 8 pages

Political theorists build their ideas upon past theories. Jon Stuart Mill learned from Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism. Even though regarded highly revolutionary at the time, Mill derived his ideas from utilitarianism thinking. Milton Friedman, one of more prominent neo-liberalism thinkers, was no different. Friedman was largely inspired by Mill and other classical liberalism thinkers when he sought to develop the idea that would address the growth of New Deal policies. The language of Friedman differs from that of Mill because Friedman lived a century ahead of Mill; however, Friedman’s idea does not derive much from Mill’s in its basic principle.
Friedman and Mill’s idea do have some differences, although they are relatively minor. Differences came largely from Friedman adopting classical liberalism into the modern political and economic landscape. Just as socialists incorporated their utopian ideal of a classless society into their ideas, Friedman incorporated his utopian ideal of natural rights – that everyone is entitled to natural rights - to make his idea of a limited government more appealing to those disillusioned with Keynesian, New Deal policies. Since a government has no authority to regulate a nature, Friedman claims laws should protect, not interfere upon individual’s rights. Friedman’s reasoning differs from that of Mill, although both share in a principle of limited government. On his book On Liberty, Mill relies on a utilitarian logic to advance his argument for a limited government. Mill argues an individual with his self-interest in the matter can conduct a business better than a government which has no self-interest because an individual is likely to pay greater attention to a business than a government can. Since a government is already overburdened with work, Mill argues additional responsibility only makes a government more ineffective in its work.
This does not mean Friedman and Mill differ entirely on their rational behind the principle of a limited government. Friedman also uses a utilitarian logic, stating the market is more efficient in creating a stable society because politics inevitably divide people into winners and losers. Since decisions are made on a majority-ruled basis, Friedman argues that in politics, the minority who disagrees with the decision is inevitably suppressed. The market, Friedman says, avoids the pitfall because it is “a system of effectively proportional representation,” accounting for every taste and tendency. Even in the case where two differ, Friedman does not disagree with Mill, only adding in his utopian ideal of natural right into Mill’s idea.
Friedman and Mill disagree in some specific policies. Mill gives a considerable thought to the idea of banning gambling houses. Mill says while the society should not restrict one’s acts, the society does not have to actively promote vices. While banning gambling houses will not lead to the disappearance of them, Mill argues...

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