John Stuart Mill and Liberty Essay

Submitted By Ebird13
Words: 925
Pages: 4

der, that an individual harming oneself is only one ‘negative’ act that affects liberty. Mill, in, “On Liberty,” discusses many different forms of what dictates ‘liberty.’ He argues about the inherent need for ‘individuality.’ With this individuality, comes the need, and right, for differences of opinion. Mill does acknowledge that things affecting an individual will also have an impact on others through that individual. He states, “…This, then, is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects. (16)” Mill is not just allowing for difference of opinion, he makes a case that it is necessary. The main repeating theme is of course, your individual thoughts, opinions, actions, are permissible and warranted, so long as they do no harm to others. When Mill discusses harm, he is not referring strictly to that of physical harm; but also something that would infringe on another’s rights of liberty as well. For example, under Mills assertions, I would be free to voice my opinion on abortion. Whether I am for or against, I should be able to voice my opinion, as long as it does not prevent others from keeping a voice for themselves (he would not accept someone berating another’s opinion, that would be “infringing upon someone else’s liberty.) “But there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it (93)” Mill is clearly telling us that just because someone may be offended at what we think, or believe, that does not in and of itself make it wrong.

While the example of alcoholism is a terrific example to explain how an individual harming oneself does, ultimately harm society as well, it is still only one example. I believe that Mill could surely cite more examples of why liberty is drastically more important for individuals, and again, in the end for society as well; than a place where there is no liberty in society. So, while I believe that Mill would acknowledge the truth in this example, I would dare to say that he would still argue for his original convictions. My opinions and sentiments would be those that concur with John Stuart Mill. He was an exceptional thinker that I do believe was ‘transitional’ in his thinking; he was obviously a ‘liberal’ in many of his works. I agree whole-heartedly that individuals should be free to postulate their own beliefs and opinions without fear of ridicule, or repercussions. This ‘liberty,’ as it is, becomes part of the backbone of great democratic countries, where individuals do have rights.

Group B

Question 2:

The topic of the subjection of women raises some interesting points from Mill. First, Mill points out that women were always ‘subjected’ by men, from the dawn of time. “It arose simply from the fact that from the very earliest twilight of human society, every woman (owing to the value attached to her by men, combined with her inferiority in muscular strength) was found in a state of bondage to some man. (475)” He’s letting us know that our laws, customs, beliefs, traditions when it comes to women, were essentially created by cavemen! “They convert was a mere physical fact into a legal right, give it the sanction of society… (475)” Mill was a rational thinker, and like many rational thinkers, when given an argument countering one of their own, they often revert to calling the others argument “emotional, or instinctual.” “For the