Mill argues that any such activity is One of the most influential thinkers in the history of classical liberalism , he contributed widely to social theory , political theory , … However, individual liberty must always Discussed and debated from time immemorial, the concept of personal liberty went without codification until the 1859 publication of "On Liberty." Mill justifies the value of liberty through a Utilitarian approach. Thus, the limitation of govern- If he were alive today, Mill would likely approve of health warnings being placed on cigarette packs, but would never advocate for an outright prohibition on cigarettes. Citations of Mill marked by ‘CW volume number, page number’ refer to the Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, ed. John Stuart Mill explains that he wants to explore the question of how much power a society or government can rightly exert over individual lives. Flemming Rose, Aaron Ross Powell, and Trevor Burrus, Karl Hess, Robert Anton Wilson, and Caleb O. Therefore, Mill explains that “he who does anything because it is the custom makes no choice. that this progress culminates in the emergence of a system of representative Mill feared the growth of a state in which “everything is done through the bureaucracy.” He feared bureaucracy because in a bureaucracy “nothing to which the bureaucracy is really adverse can be done at all.” Mill cites China and Russia as examples of extreme bureaucratic states which curtailed liberty. rebellion. pursuits, or the freedom to plan our own lives. Since it is impossible to cover all of Mill’s conclusions effectively, I will focus upon the area most pertinent for classical liberals, the role of the state. From the Introduction In his Autobiography, Mill predicts that the essay On Liberty is "likely to survive longer than anything else that I have written." According to Mill, legal coercion is society’s most profound disapproval of specifically egregious actions. Mill points out that a viewpoint’s popularity does John Stuart Mill was a prolific and well-regarded author and philosopher in his day, but perhaps his most enduring work is On Liberty, an essay developed over several years and with significant input from his wife. Mill accepted Comte's division of universal history into three THE time, it is to be hoped, is gone by when any defence would be necessary of the "liberty of the press" as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government. For example, if a person is drunk during the day at home, we ought not to bring the weight of the state upon him but we can voice our disapproval and even disassociate with this person. There are many new challenges to Mill’s vision of a free world in the 21st century. For example, drinking alcohol and selling alcohol are wholly different endeavours. Mill undertakes To what extent is this assertion true? On Liberty. But On Liberty is not merely a political text explaining the intricacies of how the state ought to act. In the final chapter, Mill discusses the practical applications of his two major principles, which are “that the individual is not accountable to society for his [self‐regarding] actions” and “that [for] such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and may be subjected to social or legal punishment.” Of all the chapters of On Liberty this one covers the broadest range of ideas, ranging from voluntary slavery, the selling of narcotics, suicide, divorce, and birth control. Despite society being justified in regulating trade, Mill believes that the doctrine of laissez‐faire is preferable. democracy. Perhaps philosophy’s most famous defense of the freedom of speech was articulated by John Stuart Mill, who defended the ideal in his 1859 work, On Liberty. On Liberty became massively popular following its publication in 1858. Political tyranny ought to be limited by a general acceptance of laissez‐faire policies and careful application of the harm principle. illegitimate, no matter how beyond the pale that individual’s viewpoint may In John Stuart Mill’s essay, On Liberty, Mill argues that the cultivation of vital individuality is essential to the advancement of society. At this point in the text, Mill has already outlined the principle which he wishes to defend, the harm principle. In the penultimate chapter, “Of The Limits to the authority of society over the individual,” Mill discusses when state‐sanctioned coercion is legitimate. Mill explains that “human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.” Since there is no one masterplan or method that guarantees a fully flourishing life, Mill believes that there must be “experiments of living.”, Mill despised and feared conformity. He found these views most fully and powerfully expressed in three of John Stuart Mill’s works: On Liberty, The Subjection of Women, and Utilitarianism. John M. Robson, 323 vols (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963–91). He goes on to say that the essay is the expression of a "single truth: " "the importance, to man and society, of a large variety of types of character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions." 223–24. In brief, society legitimately limit individual liberty. Mill rejects the concept Chapter I defines civil liberty as the limit that must Simply put, the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Mill feared “the great evil of adding unnecessarily to [government] power.” People are self‐interested, and this does not magically change when they are in positions of power, as they will use their positions to benefit themselves. Regardless of how this might be perceived today, John would later praise his father’s methods, writing, “If I have accomplished anything, I owe it, among other fortunate circumstances, to the fact that through the early training bestowed on me by my father, I started, I may fairly say, with an advantage of a quarter of a century over my contemporaries.” After his intense education, Mill began working in the East India Company, in which he would serve for 35 years. At best, this new tyranny could lead to conformity; at worst it stifled the originality and intellectual vigor needed for progress. However, Harriet’s husband, John Taylor, disapproved of their friendship and demanded that Harriet break off their friendship. We may be able to attempt to convince others that their self‐regarding conduct is harmful or unwise by offering “considerations to aid his judgment [and] exhortations to strengthen his will.” But ultimately, the individual is the final judge. The annals of history repeat this lesson constantly, which is why we should always be hesitant to suppress dissenting or differing views, even on the most fundamental questions of life. Mill envisions the growth and development of liberty. John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), usually cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, political economist, Member of Parliament, and civil servant. be. Charities, cooperatives, and voluntary organizations develop individual’s sense of duty and empathy for others. His essay tries to show the positive effects of liberty on all people and on society as a whole. In this elongated essay, Mill aims to defend what he refers to as “one very simple principle,” what modern commentators would later call the harm principle. First, there is the liberty of On Liberty is one of Mill’s most famous works and remains the one most read today. Our beliefs are like muscles. of liberty changed along with the role of rulers, who came to be Today any copy of On Liberty will bear the name of John Stuart Mill, but Mill himself described On Liberty as “more directly and literally our joint production than anything else which bears my name.” Harriet’s influence can also be felt in Mill’s work On the Subjection of Women, a foundational text for liberal feminism inspired by Harriet’s passionate advocacy of female equality. thought and opinion. In his Logic, for instance, herepresents an advance on t… liberty can be divided into three types, each of which must be recognized However, any other‐regarding action may be subject to the laws and regulations of society. Language: English: LoC Class: JC: Political science: Political theory: Subject: Liberty Category: Text: EBook-No. Published in 1859, On Liberty was perhaps John Stuart Mill's finest and most controversial work. Harriet’s husband eventually softened his approach and allowed Mill to see Harriet occasionally. With the rise of democratic government came a new threat, what Alexis De Tocqueville described as “tyranny of the majority.” Mill believed that a new form of social tyranny was emerging, one that was in some ways worse than actual tyranny as it has “fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”. must be given power to curtail behavior that harms others, but no Mill's believed that individual liberty should be … Mill opens On Liberty by explaining the nature of liberty versus authority. It is a love letter to the individual virtues of intellectual curiosity, tolerance, and open‐mindedness. Published in 1859, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty is one of the most celebrated defences of free speech ever written. Each of these freedoms negates society’s Mill not only called for legal defenses of free speech but also for the promotion of individuality and widespread tolerance on a societal level. 3 Mill, On Liberty, CW XVIII, pp. Even benevolent governments interventions could end up being flawed and misguided. Mill explains that not all harmful or immoral activity ought to be punished by legal coercion. Even if the vast majority of people in any given society agree on some issues, it does not justify silencing dissenters. To this end, John was given an extremely rigorous education from a young age. Mill’s states, “if all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind” (Mill, 1869). He is the host of Portraits of Liberty, a podcast about uncovering and exploring underrated figures throughout history who have argued for a freer world. the liberty to join other like-minded individuals for a common purpose So ‘the people’ may desire to oppress some of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power. and recognize that society can offer certain forms of protection In his adult life, he was looked at with scorn for his relationship with Harriet Taylor. He states that human views should be allowed to act on them without being made social It is challenging to quantify Harriet’s influence on Mill, but if we take Mill’s word, Harriet’s discussions and scrutiny were formative in shaping Mill’s philosophy. In this elongated essay, Mill aims to defend what he refers to as “one very simple principle,” what modern commentators would later call the harm principle. To curb social tyranny, we ought to celebrate the value of choice and the innumerable ways we can peacefully live our lives not only by experimenting but through critiquing and advising each other on how best to live. Mill wrote, “Over one’s mind and over one’s body the individual is sovereign.” Philosopher and statesman John Stuart Mill (1806-73) published On Liberty in 1859 as part of his theory of utilitarianism. outcasts or facing a legal penalty. If we simply hold onto our beliefs without passionately defending them, they will hold progressively less sway in our mind as they decay into a dead dogma. Instead, he viewed improvement as a cyclical process in which different elements of truth rise and fall. John’s father, James Mill, was an ardent reformer and personal friend of Jeremy Bentham, the famous utilitarian philosopher. Chapter III discusses whether people who hold unpopular of affairs can exercise a tyrannical power even outside the political In many of his[Pg xxii] speculationsJohn Stuart Mill forms a sort of connecting link between the doctrinesof the earlier English empirical school and those which we associatewith the name of Mr. Herbert Spencer. The work, published in 1859, applies Mill's ethical system of utilitarianism to society and the state. Don't have a Kindle? In this book, Mill expounds his concept of individual freedom within the context of his ideas on history and the state. Similar to Socrates, Jesus Christ was also persecuted for his beliefs, which in Mill’s day were considered the moral backbone of English society. one person succeeds in business more than his rival. Most of his work focuses on examining thinkers who predate classical liberalism but still articulate broadly liberal attitudes and principles. As previously mentioned, Mill believes that “trade is a social act,” which means that society has a legitimate interest in regulating certain aspects of selling. It is a love letter to the individual virtues of intellectual curiosity, tolerance, and open‐mindedness. Protectionism or constant regulating “are wrong solely because they do not really produce the results which it is desired to produce by them.” While members of a society are justified in interfering with trade, Mill argued that such control was often inexpedient and could be harmful. responsibility of society to punish and curtail such behavior and action. His writing covers a broad range of topics, including proto‐feminist writers, Classical Greece and Rome’s influence on the American Founding, ancient Chinese Philosophy, tyrannicide, and the first argument for basic income. There are two spheres of action for Mill: self‐regarding and other‐regarding. Published in 1859, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty is one of the most celebrated defences of free speech ever written. and respected by any free society. John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) was an English philosopher, political economist, feminist, and civil servant. Mill believed that “when the thing to be done is likely to be better done by individuals than by the government,” non‐intervention is the best policy. However, he does his concept of individual freedom within the context of his ideas JOHN STUART MILL: ON LIBERTY AND HISTORY 571 temporary exceptions, one of improvement; a tendency towards a better and happier state." be set on society’s power over each individual. Mill explains that “mankind can hardly be too often reminded, that there was once a man named Socrates.” The ancient philosopher Socrates, famous for his Socratic method argument, was put to death by an Athenian jury on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth. For Mill, society has a legitimate interest in regulating trade to assure there is no foul play or dishonesty in marketing. He was also tutored by some of the brightest minds of his day, including Jeremy Bentham, economist David Ricardo, and classicist, George Grote. At the age of 17, he had been arrested for distributing information on birth control. Mill argues that in the vast majority of cases we are afforded absolute liberty of thought and expression. individuals are not accountable to society for behavior and actions Greece and Rome and proceeding to England. He learned Greek at the age of three, Latin at eight, and read Plato’s dialogues in the original language before his tenth birthday. He gains no practice either in discerning or desiring what is best.”. suggest that because society offers protection, people are obliged Traditionally, liberty was defined as “the protection against the tyranny of political rulers.” To achieve liberty, limits on state authority ought to be imposed, which would eventually lead to those in power becoming more akin to tenants than perpetual rulers. Released shortly after his beloved wife, Harriet's death, On Liberty is Mill at his finest arguing for the principles he had espoused over his fifty years of life. seen as servants of the people rather than masters. to behave in a certain way, and each member of society must defend The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. morally wrong. John Stuart Mill was an odd, brilliant man, one of the great thinkers of his age. since truth can easily become hidden in sources of prejudice and Surely enough, he was proven correct. brought about a new problem: the tyranny of the majority, in which You can view our. We must not silence any opinion, because such censorship is simply Despite his utilitarian roots, Mill’s thoughts in On Liberty represent a love letter to spontaneity, individuality, and the robust importance of choosing one’s own path in life. In chapter 2, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” Mill argues that silencing any opinion is wrong, even if the opinion is false, because knowledge arises only from the “collision [of truth] with error.” To this end Mill is wholly opposed to paternalism. John Stuart Mill was born on 20 May 1806 in Pentonville, then anorthern suburb of London, to Harriet Barrow and James Mill. Stephen thus subjected Mill’s political philosophy to intense criticism in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Over time, the meaning Mill believed that bureaucracy would naturally lead to stagnation and eventual decline due to the power of vested interests which cripple creativity. However, when On Liberty was nearing completion in 1858, Harriet suddenly died, from which point onwards Mill made no further edits to the text, defining the work as a tribute to her memory. Pingback: Saints Should Always Be Judged Guilty Until They Are Proved Innocent: … This vision of the good life is threatened by two main villains, political and social tyranny. By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from SparkNotes and verify that you are over the age of 13. Mill further believes that individuality and spontaneity created progress. To this day, it is still hailed as one of the best defenses of free speech. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. The pair quickly became good friends. Here, society itself becomes the tyrant by seeking to a democratic majority forces its will on the minority. And throughout his life he had to hide his atheist beliefs fearing ridicule from society at large. In the rest of If we do not make use of them they will weaken; by consistently defending our opinions, we bolster them against falsities that would usurp their position in our minds. Even if politicians were benevolent and only wanted the best for their citizens, Mill was still sceptical about state intervention. In the chapter entitled “Of The Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” Mill argues in favour of freedom of speech in the vast majority of situations, barring a few key exceptions such as when an individual incites immediate violence. different ways of living. John Stuart Mill (1859) CHAPTER II OF THE LIBERTY OF THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION. John Stuart Mill, one of the foremost nineteenth-century spokesmen for liberalism, advocated Utilitarianism in ethics, i.e., the view that we should each act so as to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. In modern terms, why should flat earthers, holocaust deniers, and climate change deniers be allowed to express their opinions? In the realm of self‐regarding acts, Mill believes that “there should be perfect freedom” from coercion. persons should be able to curtail another person’s freedom to express a divergent point of view. He believes allowing for individuality and choice creates an industrious and creative environment in which progress is unimpeded. Liberty of opinion is valuable for two main reasons. dead dogma. John Stuart Mill was born on May 20th, 1806, in London. The father of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham famously described natural rights as “nonsense on stilts.” It is essential to understand that Mill believes that humans are “progressive beings.” He explains that “the source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being” is that we are “capable of rectifying…mistakes, by discussion and experience.” Thus those who censor opinions commit “a peculiar evil” by “robbing the human race” of the path to truth. On Liberty depends on It is a small yet dense essay with many questions about how a free society ought to treat its citizens. No person no matter how intelligent is wholly infallible and, for Mill, “All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” Therefore, no person has the right to silence others. On Liberty, John Stuart Mill On Liberty is a philosophical work by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, originally intended as a short essay. Not only did John have to study a wide array of topics, but he was also charged with teaching his younger siblings what he had learned. Non‐intervention allows people to solve their problems and can be a “means to their own mental education.” Mill explains that the state’s “business is to enable each experimentalist to benefit by the experiments of others; instead of tolerating no experiments but its own.”.
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