On Liberty Mill's On Liberty addresses the nature and limits of the power that can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. However Mill is clear that his concern for liberty does not extend to all individuals and all societies.
Composition[ edit ] According to Mill's Autobiography, On Liberty was first conceived as a short essay in As the ideas developed, the essay was expanded, rewritten and "sedulously" corrected by Mill and his wife, Harriet Taylor. Mill, after suffering a mental breakdown and eventually meeting and subsequently marrying Harriet, changed many of his beliefs on moral life and women's rights.
Mill states that On Liberty "was more directly and literally our joint production than anything else which bears my name. He divides this control of authority into two mechanisms: Mill admits that this new form of society seemed immune to tyranny because "there was no fear of tyrannizing over self.
First, even in democracy, the rulers were not always the same sort of people as the ruled. Where one can be protected from a tyrant, it is much harder to be protected "against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling. Mill's proof goes as follows: The only justification for a person's preference for a particular moral belief is that it is that person's preference.
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. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
For example, according to Mill, children and "barbarian" nations are benefited by limited freedom. Mill concludes the Introduction by discussing what he claimed were the three basic liberties in order of importance: This includes the freedom to act on such thought, i.
Mill attempts to prove his claim from the first chapter that opinions ought never to be suppressed. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.
Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.
And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: Therefore, Mill concludes that suppression of opinion based on belief in infallible doctrine is dangerous.
Mill points out the inherent value of individuality since individuality is ex vi termini i. He states that he fears that Western civilization approaches this well-intentioned conformity to praiseworthy maxims characterized by the Chinese civilization. Rather, the person behind the action and the action together are valuable.
Among the works of man, which human life is rightly employed in perfecting and beautifying, the first in importance surely is man himself. Supposing it were possible to get houses built, corn grown, battles fought, causes tried, and even churches erected and prayers said, by machinery—by automatons in human form—it would be a considerable loss to exchange for these automatons even the men and women who at present inhabit the more civilised parts of the world, and who assuredly are but starved specimens of what nature can and will produce.
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.
Mill explains a system in which a person can discern what aspects of life should be governed by the individual and which by society. In such a situation, "society has jurisdiction over [the person's conduct].
Rather, he argues that this liberal system will bring people to the good more effectively than physical or emotional coercion. Governments, he claims, should only punish a person for neglecting to fulfill a duty to others or causing harm to othersnot the vice that brought about the neglect.
Mill spends the rest of the chapter responding to objections to his maxim. He notes the objection that he contradicts himself in granting societal interference with youth because they are irrational but denying societal interference with certain adults though they act irrationally.
For example, a Muslim state could feasibly prohibit pork. However, Mill still prefers a policy of society minding its own business. He begins by summarising these principles: Advice, instruction, persuasion, and avoidance by other people if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express its dislike or disapprobation of his conduct.
Secondly, that for such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and may be subjected either to social or to legal punishment, if society is of opinion that the one or the other is requisite for its protection.
He concludes that free markets are preferable to those controlled by governments. While it may seem, because "trade is a social act," that the government ought intervene in the economy, Mill argues that economies function best when left to their own devices. Second, he states that agents must consider whether that which can cause injury can cause injury exclusively.Biography John Stuart Mill was born at 13 Rodney Street in Pentonville, Middlesex, the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist James Mill, and Harriet Barr.
On Liberty is a philosophical work by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, originally intended as a short essay. The work, published in , applies Mill's . A summary of On Liberty in 's John Stuart Mill (–). Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of John Stuart Mill (–) and what it means.
Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. John Stuart Mill's On Liberty applies the utilitarianism philosophy of Jeremy Bentham to the actions of the government.
Mill argues that if the majority of people disapprove of an action, that is. Liberty John Stuart Mill 1: Introduction another ·enemy·, and to be ruled by a master on condition that they had a fairly effective guarantee against his tyranny, they didn’t try for anything more than this.
A Critical Analysis of John Stuart Mill’s "On Liberty" Essay - An individual does not make a community, and a community does not make a society. In order to have a functioning and prosperous society, one must relinquish some free will in return for protection.