— James Mill
Government (1820), Context: The end of Government has been described in a great variety of expressions. By Locke it was said to be "the public good;" by others it has been described as being " the greatest happiness of the greatest number." These, and equivalent expressions, are just; they are only defective, inasmuch as the particular ideas which they embrace are indistinctly announced; and different combinations are by means of them raised indifferent minds, and even in the same mind on different occasions.
It is immediately obvious, that a wide and difficult field is opened, and that the whole science of human nature must be explored to lay a foundation for the science of Government. To understand what is included in the happiness of the greatest number, we must understand what is included in the happiness of the individuals of whom it ii composed.
That dissection of human nature which would be necessary to show, on proper evidence, the primary elements into which human happiness may be resolved, it is not compatible with the present design to undertake. We must content ourselves with assuming certain results.
We may allow, for example, in general terms, that the lot of every human being is determined by his pains and pleasures; and that his happiness corresponds with the degree in which his pleasures are great, and his pains are small.
Human pains and pleasures are derived from two sources :—They are produced, either by our fellow-men, or by causes independent of other men.
We may assume it as another principle, that the concern of Government is with the former of these two sources; and that its business is to increase to the utmost the pleasures, and diminish to the utmost the pains which men derive from one another.