An Attempt to Reshape Capitalism’s Image

Ross A. Nichols '13, Gettysburg College


John Stuart Mill is an extremely interesting figure in the history of economics. He was known for his eclecticism and his views on economic theory can best be described as self-contradictory. In this vein was his attempt to formulate a theory of value. Claiming to be a disciple of both Bentham (utility theory of value) and Ricardo (labor theory of value), he sought to combine two rivalry theories of value. While Mill’s attempt ultimately proved futile, it was not because he could not make up his mind. Mill wanted to reshape capitalism’s image. He wanted to reform capitalism, to show that it could exist in the absence of class conflict. In short, he wanted to cure capitalism of its ills.