For those who injure society in ways that cannot be punished in a court of law, Mill says that society is more than welcome to use its opinions and judgment as punishment. It is the duty of society to warn others about a person who is harmful to others; coercion is allowed when it is meant to assist others in the retention of their liberty. If a member of society refuses to abide by self-regarding principles, then Mill asserts society cannot coerce that person to reform or coerce other society members to avoid that person.
Society can hold individual negative opinions of a such a person and advise others of that person's faults. This is the only punishment inflicted on a person who does harmful things to themselves - the penalty of public opinion. Mill contends such a person is obviously already receiving punishment as a result of the action they have inflicted on themselves.
Society is not exempt from its duty to the individual, either. Mill contends that society has the responsibility to develop its children into rational and moral human beings. If a society finds itself with a preponderance of incompetent, immoral citizens, then it only has itself to blame. After a person's developmental adolescence phase, however, society's responsibility to influence the individual stops and society has no right to tell the individual what are the correct decisions.
Mill does some preemptive strikes on potential detractors from his work as well. To the assertion that noone's actions affect solely themselves, Mill agrees in part. However, he says that society only has the right to interfere when the effect of a person's actions brings a strong risk of or actual damage. If a person's actions have little significance to society, it is actually in society's best interest to preserve personal liberty rather than to obsess over an individual's action.
Mill applies his principles to real life situations as well. He states that trading is a public act while consuming is not; therefore selling of certain products can be regulated more than the actual use of them.
In competitive situations, Mill states that the harm principle should not be enforced at all times because when there is a winner, there will inevitably be a loser who is harmed.
He states that the purpose of liberty is to allow a person to pursue their interest. Therefore, when a person intends to terminate their ability to have interests it is permissible for society to step in. In other words, a person does not have the freedom to surrender their freedom. He states that they should enforce mandatory education through minor fines and annual standardised testing that tested only uncontroversial fact. Kant and Locke. Mill concludes by stating three general reasons to object to governmental interference: if agents do the action better than the government.
On Liberty was enormously popular in the years following its publication. Denise Evans and Mary L. Onorato summarise the modern reception of On Liberty, stating: "[c]ritics regard his essay On Liberty as a seminal work in the development of British liberalism. Enhanced by his powerful, lucid, and accessible prose style, Mill's writings on government, economics, and logic suggest a model for society that remains compelling and relevant.
Mill claims that all of his principles on liberty appeal to the ultimate authority of utilitarianism, according to Nigel Warburton , much of the essay can seem divorced from his supposed final court of appeals. Mill seems to idealize liberty and rights at the cost of utility.
Warburton suggests that there are situations in which it would cause more happiness to suppress truth than to permit it. 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. Thus, those who suppress it are worthy of punishment. 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.
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.
Some religions believe that they have a God given duty to enforce religious norms. For them, it seems impossible for their religious beliefs to be wrong, i. Therefore, according to Warburton, Mill's principle of total freedom of speech may not apply.
Early in the book, he claims that simply being offensive does not constitute harm. Therefore, if morality is undermined, so is individual happiness. Hence, since Mill claims that governments ought to protect the individual's ability to seek happiness, governments ought to intervene in the private realm to enforce moral codes. He states that "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians". However, during his term as a Member of Parliament , he chaired the extraparliamentary Jamaica Committee , which for two years unsuccessfully sought the prosecution of Governor Eyre and his subordinates for military violence against Jamaican Blacks.
The author is John Stuart Mill, although he cites Harriot Taylor as having made extremely significant contributions to the text. He says that to refer to her as co-author as well as a kind of private editor would be close to the truth if not more true than to exclude from being so indicated.
The times and the cultural transformations that were influencing the authors when they wrote this piece were in some great part their very inspiration for it.
As testament to the author's wishes, at times both will be referred to as co-authors or as author and assistant whereas at other times the old fashioned convention of defining John Stuart Mill as the author will be used.
He, or they, has written the book in such a way that anyone literate with a decent mind can read it. Given that so many have perhaps been accused of having been intentionally obscure, great numbers who might be put off by the fanciest of language will be relieved to find this work couched in quite straightforward language. The author and his helper cover a variety of aspects of how individuality and human liberty function within the nation.
The author begins the book by introducing readers to the over all situation with respect to the topic. He then proceeds in good order through five chapters to explore the sociology of the individual's freedom of thought and discussion.
His interpretation of nuisance is, of course, a fairly specific one, and not the everyday nuisance that encountering other people entails every sidewalk, every highway, every place of business is filled with people who seem to be nothing but a nuisance, after all. 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. Therefore, according to Warburton, Mill's principle of total freedom of speech may not apply. The Internet allows for much of Mill's freedom -- and yet even here, depending on where one is, there are many restrictions on writing and publication.
It is: Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant This includes the freedom to act on such thought, i. 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.
First, even in democracy, the rulers were not always the same sort of people as the ruled.