Harriet Taylor Mill

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Harriet Taylor Mill (née Harriet Hardy) (London, 8 October 1807 – Avignon, 3 November 1858) was a philosopher and women's rights advocate.


  • There is no inherent reason or necessity that all women should voluntarily choose to devote their lives to one animal function and its consequences. Numbers of women are wives and mothers only because there is no other career open to them, no other occupation for their feelings or activities. Every improvement in their education, and enlargement of their faculties, everything which renders them more qualified for any other mode of life, increases the number of those to whom it is an injury and an oppression to be denied the choice. To say that women must be excluded from active life because maternity disqualifies them for it, is in fact to say that every other career should be forbidden them, in order that maternity may be their only resource.
    • Harriet Taylor Mill, The Enfranchisement of Women (1851)
  • if we look to the great majority of cases, the effect of women’s legal inferiority, on the character both of women and of men, must be painted in far darker colours. We do not speak here of the grosser brutalities, nor of the man’s power to seize on the woman’s earnings, or compel her to live with him against her will. We do not address ourselves to any one who requires to have it proved that these things should be remedied. We suppose average cases, in which there is neither complete union nor complete disunion of feelings and character; and we affirm, that, in such cases, the influence of the dependence on the woman’s side is demoralising to the character of both.
    • Harriet Taylor Mill, The Enfranchisement of Women (1851)

Quotes about Harriet Taylor Mill[edit]

  • Mill had barred his way to comprehending the guide function of prices by his doctrinaire assurance that `there is nothing in the laws of value which remains for the present or any future writer to clear up' (1848/1965, Works: III, 456), an assurance that made him believe that ` considerations of value had to do with [the distribution of wealth] alone' and not with its production (1848/1965, Works, III: 455). Mill was blinded to the function of prices by his assumption that only a process of mechanical causation by some few observable preceding events constituted a legitimate explanation in terms of the standards of natural science. (...) Despite the great harm done by his work, we must probably forgive Mill much for his infatuation with the lady who later became his wife.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (1988), Appendix B: The Complexity of Problems of Human Interaction

External links[edit]

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