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Reforming Political Economy

Reforming Political Economy

Chapter:
(p.267) Chapter Five Reforming Political Economy
Source:
Reforming Philosophy
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226767352.003.0007

This chapter discusses Whewell's politics. Mill believed that Whewell's philosophy was the paradigmatic example of an antireformist view justifying the current status quo. But Whewell's actual political stance was not as conservative as Mill supposed. Whewell's view of political change was similar to his view of scientific change: there are no scientific revolutions—nor should there be political revolutions—completely discontinuous and unrelated to what came before. For instance, he supported the extension of the franchise that resulted from the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, but thought that further reforms ought to come slowly. Moreover, Whewell's view of morality was not so different from Mill's, and in fact may have influenced the way in which Mill reconfigured Benthamism. Both men eschewed Bentham's claim that pleasure was the sole determinant of virtuous action, erecting instead moral philosophies that stressed the importance of creating morally excellent characters, which would naturally find happiness in acting virtuously.

Keywords:   political economy, reforms, political change, scientific change, virtuous action, pleasure

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