Truth and Enlargement in the Political Thought of John Stuart Mill

Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Political Science, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

James H. Nichols

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Mark Blitz

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Christopher Nadon

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Aaron Berg


John Stuart Mill, Liberalism, On Liberty, Political Philosophy, Truth, Utilitarianism

Subject Categories

Political Science


This dissertation is an inquiry into the political thought of John Stuart Mill. It concerns Mill’s varying usages of the concept of truth and the critical role of enlargement in the influential political doctrines of his later work. The study begins by observing several deficiencies in the current literature on Mill. There is not a sufficient exposition of the philosophical principles that divide the thought of the early Mill from the later Mill; and there is therefore not an adequate explanation of the meaning of the political thought of the later Mill. The analysis indicates that that there is, on a philosophically considered level, a decisive rupture in Mill’s thought that occurs at some point in the early 1850s. I argue that the nature of this rupture can be adequately grasped by an analysis of how the concept of truth is utilized by Mill across these two periods. The analysis of the concept of truth provides grounds for reconsidering the meaning and aim of Mill’s later works such as On Liberty and Utilitarianism. Such reconsideration reveals enlargement as the highest and most comprehensive good at which Mill’s political doctrines aim. The study concludes by evaluating Mill’s thought in light of the findings on truth and enlargement. I argue that the later Mill’s commitment to the project of enlargement obstructs his ability to adequately defend basic liberal principles.



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