This article shows that a number of the key points expressed by Mill in On Liberty (1859) were very similar to many ideas that Humboldt presented in The Limits of State Action (1792). In fact, it was by Humboldt that Mill gained an appreciation for the concept of self-development. The primary goal of his paper, however, is to find significant differences in their respective ideas on the role of the state as a way to facilitate the development of individuality. It also claims that these differences can be mainly attributed to Mill having had the opportunity to directly observe the negative impacts of industrial capitalism, which led him to defend a positive state role in counteracting them.
Keywords: Welfare state, liberalism, utilitarianism, freedom, diversity
Jel Code: B12; B15.