john stuart mill on liberty

He argues that a person who is empirically prone to act violently (i.e. 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. 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. "[5] The composition of this work was also indebted to the work of the German thinker Wilhelm von Humboldt, especially his essay On the Limits of State Action. ����Q��4����a||? In the third chapter, J. S. Mill points out the inherent value of individuality since individuality is ex vi termini (i.e. [75], Furthermore, David Brink tries to reconcile Mill's system of rights with utilitarianism in three ways:[75], Some thinkers have criticised Mill's writing for its apparent narrow or unclear focus in several areas. In other words, a person does not have the freedom to surrender their freedom. Therefore, according to Warburton, Mill's principle of total freedom of speech may not apply. In the realm of self‐​regarding acts, Mill believes that “there should be perfect freedom” from coercion. Harriet’s husband eventually softened his approach and allowed Mill to see Harriet occasionally. [1][2] Mill suggests standards for the relationship between authority and liberty. On a particular issue, people will align themselves either for or against that issue; the side of greatest volume will prevail, but is not necessarily correct. For example, if a scientist discovered a comet about to kill the planet in a matter of weeks, it may cause more happiness to suppress the truth than to allow society to discover the impending danger. In modern terms, why should flat earthers, holocaust deniers, and climate change deniers be allowed to express their opinions? 12 0 obj Among the standards proposed … 58. [72], Mill makes it clear throughout On Liberty that he "regard[s] utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions", a standard he inherited from his father, a follower of Jeremy Bentham. And throughout his life he had to hide his atheist beliefs fearing ridicule from society at large. He concluded that the majority of the time in economic affairs laissez‐​faire was a preferable system. True belief is holding correct beliefs; however, knowledge is holding beliefs because they are justified through rational argumentation. ;/�XW��������c�Ťd9�"�dMpn�m�SE�Z��vU���oI�0e]6���lٔu2�vPd�Qo+����[��%9�ھ} Published in 1859, it applies Mill's ethical system of utilitarianism to society and state. But the relationship between the individual and the state is not a one‐​way street; in return for their cooperation and services, the state ought to acknowledge certain limits which it ought not cross as a general rule. For instance, Mill writes:[73], If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of contrary 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. Charities, cooperatives, and voluntary organizations develop individual’s sense of duty and empathy for others. He emphasizes the importance of individuality, which he considers prerequisite to the higher pleasures—the summum bonum of utilitarianism. Mill makes clear that he only considers adults in his writing, failing to account for how irrational members of society, such as children, ought to be treated. ���/���.�|�S���0�=*�M��g��rjZ;<>a^�i�ڝn����k~a.BN��L^u���ي�絗(ՃѲo�x}7�|�(��C��бz*Ru��EW��o�$\]. 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. Therefore, selling poison is permissible. He rightly believed that the era in which he lived was marked by unprecedented material and moral progress. 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. In organic periods people accept some form of positive creed. Note that Mill does not base his arguments for free speech on universal or natural rights. He also argues that, while much of Mill's theory depends upon a distinction between private and public harm, Mill seems not to have provided a clear focus on or distinction between the private and public realms. [47] Later, he attacks government-run economies as "despotic." 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. Instead, he argues that when people act upon custom alone, they do not make a decision, they simply follow what has already been done without thought. He was also tutored by some of the brightest minds of his day, including Jeremy Bentham, economist David Ricardo, and classicist, George Grote. He states that "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians". Mill further believes that individuality and spontaneity created progress. Paul Meany is the Assistant Editor of Intellectual History at Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org. He believes that if the government ran the economy, then all people would aspire to be part of a bureaucracy that had no incentive to further the interests of any but itself. James Mill was determined to mould John into a well‐​educated leader and an advocate of his reforming ideals. He states that he fears that Western civilization approaches this well-intentioned conformity to praiseworthy maxims characterized by the Chinese civilization. [74], This claim seems to go against the principle of utilitarianism, that it is permissible that one should be harmed so that the majority could benefit. ", The final draft was nearly complete when his wife died suddenly in 1858. 15 0 obj Our beliefs are like muscles. At best, this new tyranny could lead to conformity; at worst it stifled the originality and intellectual vigor needed for progress. He explains,“The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement.” Mill’s opposition to custom is nuanced. In Mill's view, tyranny of the majority is worse than tyranny of government because it is not limited to a political function. He begins by summarising these principles: The maxims are, first, that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. [20] In doing so, Mill explains his opinion of Christian ethics,[22][23] arguing that, while they are praiseworthy,[24][25] they are incomplete on their own. 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. Despite society being justified in regulating trade, Mill believes that the doctrine of laissez‐​faire is preferable.

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