Stuart Mill Individualism

When analyzing the role of an individual within society, one must consider whether the individual retains sovereignty and autonomy under the weight of the society 's jurisdiction and power. John Stuart Mill and John Locke developed philosophies concerning the balance between society 's right to govern and regulate its people, and the right of the individual to access and express their human liberties fully. Mill 's philosophy emphasizes the importance of individualism and nonconformity in a society, and advocates that a just government is one that represents the interests of its people. Similarly, Locke 's philosophy also defines an ideal government by its duty to uphold the liberties of its people. Concerning the extent to which each individual …show more content…
Respecting the sovereignty and autonomy of the individual is of the utmost importance to Mill and he begins his text by speaking of a government, and society, that fully recognizes the human liberties of its people, and actively avoids overstepping the scope of its influence over individual lives. Mill argues that governments and societies must recognize the sovereignty of the individuals that comprise their population, and qualifies his argument by stating, "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign" (Mill 9). Therefore, although individuals live under the jurisdiction of their society, they retain control over their thoughts, opinions, lifestyle preferences, and actions. Mill states that the only circumstance under which a society should exercise its jurisdiction over an individual is to prevent the individual from committing violence acts against other people. Mill furthers the argument, stating, “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” (Mill 9). Society can only exercise its jurisdiction over an individual’s actions when those actions pose a direct detriment to other

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