On the philosophical plane, James Mill's political thinking began from a model of man quintessentially utilitarian in constitution. Starting with individual agents, it was to his account of the science of human nature that he turned in the quest for a science of politics suitable for the modern world. If James Mill's science of politics was individualist in character, it was neither automatically nor necessarily democratic in the practical political arena. On that subject, everything turned on the question of judging when (or if) individual capacity had reached an acceptable standard. This criterion proved to be sufficiently malleable to allow him to appear either expansive and democratic or narrow and elitist, as the case required.