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Interactive video lesson plan for: 7. Utilitarianism and Liberty, John Stuart Mill

Activity overview:

Foundations of Modern Social Thought (SOCY 151)

Adam Smith's ideas about self-interest should be understood as a precursor in some ways to John Stuart Mill's thinking on utilitarianism. Professor Szelenyi discusses, but does not resolve, the complexities of Adam Smith's moral and ethical positions staked out in The Theory of Moral Sentiments—including a focus on sympathy—and the most widespread economic interpretation of Smith and The Wealth of Nations that he is the economist of self-interest. One way to reconcile these so-called "two Smiths" is that, as social beings, it is in our self-interest to express benevolence and sympathy toward others. Mill, the student of Bentham since a very young age, humanizes the theory of utilitarianism. Perhaps he should be best remembered for his staunch views on liberty: liberty must never be compromised for the sake of expediency.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Smith in a Historical Context
07:04 - Chapter 2. "The Theory of Moral Sentiments": Major Themes
13:29 - Chapter 3. "The Wealth of Nations": Major Themes; Self-Interest and The Common Good
21:24 - Chapter 4. The Labor Theory of Value; The Invisible Hand
27:17 - Chapter 5. Mill in a Historical Context
35:34 - Chapter 6. "Utilitarianism": Major Themes

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.

Tagged under: Smith,invisible hand,-interest,Mill,Bentham,utilitarianism,liberty,expediency

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