The “Multicultural” Mill 1
This chapter introduces cultural theory and examines Mill's work in order to offer a new explanation of certain tensions within it. It argues that cultural theory offers an insightful basis for commenting on some major issues of Mill criticism, while at the same time Mill's thought offers suggestions useful to the development of cultural theory. Mill's answer to the question of the optimal form of government, the question with which Considerations on Representative Government opens, is that it depends on what might be called the culture of the people. Cultural theorists hold that societies are multicultural; that is, the adherents of several ways of life in varying proportions. Mill's concern for an inclusive, nonegoistic moral community sets him as clearly apart from the individualistic tradition as On Liberty places him within its fold. Mill's egalitarianism in Utilitarianism is certainly consistent with both reducing the degrees and changing the bases of inequalities in his society.