John Locke vs. John Stuart Mill: Using metaethics to examine claims

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  • As a branch of analytical philosophy, metaethics explores the status, foundation, and scope of morality. Through this lens we can examine moral claims like those in classical liberalist thought.
  • Two voices stand out when it comes to liberalism and rights: John Locke’s naturalistic point of view, and John Stuart Mill’s moralistic/utilitarian stance. Locke believed that right and wrong could be determined rationally, while Mill believed in moral rules and the idea that what’s right and wrong should be in service of human happiness.
  • Philosophy professor Daniel Jacobson argues that to live in a society, everyone must abide by the same rules and not allow for those rules to be circumvented when convenient.

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