Nor is this surprising. As Millâ€™s great critic James Fitzjames Stephen noted, â€śthe notorious result of unlimited freedom of thought and discussion is to produce general scepticism on many subjects in the vast majority of mindsâ€ť. Such â€śparadoxesâ€ť (to put it politely) show themselves wherever the constructive part of Millâ€™s doctrine is glimpsed through his cheerleading for freedom and eccentricity.
Mill claimed a monopoly on the word Ââ€śrationalâ€ť. So long as that monopoly remains unchallenged our paralysis will be complete. The antidote to the moral helplessness that Millâ€™s liberalism generates is not to be found by digging deeper in the trench of liberal rationalisation. On the contrary, it begins with the recognition that no â€śone very simple principleâ€ť can relieve us of the duties we owe to the inhabited world that we, for this brief while, share with many others.