top of page

About

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a prominent Liberal philosopher, economist, journalist, writer and politician. Despite being a known atheist, he was elected MP for Westminster (1865-68) and was the first UK parliamentarian to try to legislate for votes for women on an equal basis as for men.

Who was John Stuart Mill?

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a prominent Liberal philosopher, economist, journalist, writer and politician. Despite being a known atheist, he was elected MP for Westminster (1865-68) and was the first UK parliamentarian to try to legislate for votes for women on an equal basis as for men.

Mill’s influence is claimed by a wide spectrum of political thinkers, but his core beliefs place him beyond doubt as the first of the founders of social liberalism. He was also an early advocate of electoral reform.

The following titles of his essays and books indicate the wide range of his forensic political thinking: ‘Political Economy’ ’(1848); ‘On Liberty’’(1859); ’Considerations on Representative Government’ (1861); ’Utilitarianism’’(1861); and the ‘Subjection of Women’ (1869). Most of these works are still readily available in print. Mill’s most famous work ‘On Liberty’ is dedicated to his ‘friend and wife’ Harriet Taylor to whom he attributed its joint authorship.

A short monograph, ‘John Stuart Mill and Modern Liberalism’, written by Dr Alan Butt Philip, was published by this Institute in 2006, and is available online.

Why we exist

Mill's influence is claimed by a wide spectrum of political thinkers, but his core beliefs place him beyond doubt as the first of the founders of social liberalism. He was also an early advocate of electoral reform. We are continuing his legacy into the 21st century by fighting for the very same.

Country Flags
Public Speaker

What we do

The John Stuart Mill Institute organises lectures, debates, seminars and publications. It also commissions research into important issues which would otherwise be neglected or where a new liberal perspective may be needed. We want to continue our commitment to his ideals - but we need your help.

History

The John Stuart Mill Institute (JSMI) was founded in 1992 by Nancy Seear and Conrad Russell, two leading members of the Liberal Democrat peers, and Dame Penelope Jessel, formerly international officer of the Liberal party. Its purpose was and is to research, analyse and stimulate debate on issues of contemporary political importance, both domestic and international, from a liberal perspective. It has charitable status and has never had direct links with the Liberal Democrats. Dame Penelope Jessel was the first Convener of the JSMI trustees. Since 1996 that role has been fulfilled by Dr Alan Butt Philip.


Inspired by the philosopher, economist and social reformer John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), the Institute stands for the freedom of the individual, supports responsible democratic participation and seeks to develop a tradition of thought on political, economic and social issues relevant to the 21st century.


Between 1992 and 2006 the JSMI convened research seminars, organised lectures and published over twenty research monographs. Contributors included Conrad Russell, Ralf Dahrendorf, Professor Julian LeGrand, William Wallace, Edward Mortimer, and A.C.Grayling.

Early work

Leading academics, diplomats, journalists and politicians have all contributed to the work of the John Stuart Mill Institute (JSMI). In its earlier years the JSMI concentrated its efforts as follows: hosting an annual lecture (lecturers included Lord Ralf Dahrendorf, A.C.Grayling and Sir David Butler); commissioning research; and organising research seminars. A few research themes dominated the output of the Institute such as the difficulties of ensuring effective international intervention to safeguard human rights (Sir Anthony Parsons and Edward Mortimer) and the problems for the United Kingdom faced with the accelerating pace of European integration (Dame Helen Wallace, Lord William Wallace and Alan Butt Philip).

 

Each research project would have a separate financial sponsor, such as the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust or a private individual. Meetings at party political conferences on specific topics were also convened, and publications ensued. The JSMI’s intention was always to deal with subjects of substance and of importance for the long term regardless of whether these were also subjects of current political debate.

People

The John Stuart Mill Institute is a registered charity run by independent trustees.

 

The JSMI seeks to apply the values of liberty and participation to present day problems and to suggest policy positions. Valuing society, yet putting the individual first, the Institute asserts the importance of a principled approach, both to problems and opportunities in the UK and internationally.The convenor of the trustees is Dr Alan Butt Philip. Other trustees include Gordon Lishman and Michael Meadowcroft. Recently appointed trustees are Denali Boisot, Maureen Nolan, Dr Seth Thevoz, Chris Willmore and Javed Bashir.

Governance

Constitution

The Institute is run by its trustees - at present eight in number - in accordance with the trust deed which was drawn up in February 1992. A quorum of five trustees is required to be present at a  meeting of trustees in order for decisions to be taken. New trustees require the approval of existing trustees in order to be elected.

Financials

The JSMI is an independent and self-supporting charitable organisation. Its activities are funded by small donations from individuals and occasional sponsors (charitable, corporate or individual). The Institute owns no land or buildings, nor does it lease or rent any.

Policies

The principal object of the trust is "the advancement of  the education of the general public in social, economic  and international affairs, in particular as they relate to the rights of individuals, the environment and communities".  In 2020 the trustees decided to work in partnership with the Social Liberal Forum on a continuing but ad hoc basis.

bottom of page