Freedom Of Freedom In John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

1816 Words 8 Pages
Can society advance without all of its people? In John Stuart Mill’s essay “On Liberty”, he makes the argument that we should have the freedom to perform any actions we wish, as long as those are not causing harm to any others. Mill makes a number of justifications for his argument throughout his essay. He understands that in order for society to function, there needs to be certain restrictions on individual’s liberty. He believes society’s control over an individual’s liberty should only be restricted to prevent harm to others. Mill views this as being important to prevent tyranny of the government and public opinion. Mill acknowledges how freedom of speech is important for society’s progression over time. Although Mill makes essential guidelines …show more content…
His standpoint is that the government should not interfere with people’s lives unless it is to prevent harm to another person. He sees this as the only time the government can legitimately interfere with an individual’s liberty. Mill believes people should have the freedom to do whatever actions they wish to themselves when he states “His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” (Mill, 13). Mill does not view something as extreme as an individual harming themselves as grounds for the government to restrict a person’s liberty. This argument from Mill is conflictive with present day society with many laws in place to protect individuals from harming themselves. A present day example of this is drug possession being a crime punishable by law. Examples of laws such as these, play an import role in deterring people from potentially causing harm to themselves. Should society play a role in protecting individuals from harming …show more content…
Although truth can be subjective, it is necessary for society to advance. Truth progresses through history, we can only know truth through objections over time. For Mill, limiting individual freedoms could result in a situation where “...[people] are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth” (Mill, 19). Mill believes that people are hurt by silencing ideas that could possibly be true. Without allowing all ideas to be heard, people can easily fall into a false sense of security that what they believe is true because of the opinions of the majority. He knows that the popular opinion is not always correct, which is why we must allow freedom of speech and opinion. Mill sees the importance for all opinions to be heard so that the opportunity can arise for people to exchange error for truth. He believes that a person can only firmly believe something is true if it is able to withstand contraction and disapproval. This can only happen if there is liberty to criticize others opinions, if there is not liberty to do so, then we can lose the opportunity to challenge our

Related Documents