Essay On John Stuart Mill

1343 words - 6 pages

J.S. Mill's liberalism was an important and essential advance beyond the liberalism of Hobbes through his emphasis on the liberty of thought and discussion which dealt with the freedom to articulate one's opinions, the freedom to participate in intellectual, political, religious and general debates and arguments, and the freedom of the press, yet he remained essentially similar to Hobbes when he engaged the notion of the liberty of action by having attempted to distinguish the area in which an individual is free to act upon his will, opinions and thoughts.To Mill, one could never be certain about the reality or fabrication of a certain opinion or viewpoint. Any assumption of complete certainty of the truth or falsity of an opinion was an allusion to the infallibility of man. In addition, those who assumed this, and consequently stifled an opinion, excluded all others from hearing that opinion, thereby having imposed their own version of certainty (as opposed to absolute certainty) on them. Thus, Mill wrote ' We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still' (Mill, 1978:16).One obvious benefit from allowing an opinion to be expressed would be if that opinion turned out to be true. Thus, the intrinsic value of that truth would be the reward of the person who allowed his own opinion to be challenged. But, more importantly, the gain would not be confined to the individuals involved in the debate; society as a whole would benefit from the exposure of a fallacy, and the elucidation of a truth.Less obvious would be the benefits that could be obtained should the opinion be false. Firstly, Mill believed even erroneous opinions contained a portion of truth in them. Since the dominant opinion rarely contained the whole truth, Mill believed that such a collision of hostile opinions would bring forth the rest, or at least more of the truth.An atmosphere of intellectual freedom, according to Mill, also benefited the general mental well-being of mankind. It served to nurture probing intellectuals to venture unimpeded into bold, ingenious lines of thought, and enabled normal humans to develop to full potential their mental capabilities, including judgments. By having reduced the deadening effects of received opinions, a society where intellectual debate prevailed would also have served to strengthen its members' reasoning faculties. Even on the disinterested bystander, a collision of opinion would reveal to him truths and falsehoods he would never have considered.The benefits that Mill attributed to a society that allowed freedom of action within a certain sphere are similar. These are derived from Mill's assumption of the intrinsic good of individuality.Mill believed that an individual (and indeed all mankind) had his human capabilities withered away if he blindly followed customs, and conformed his nature to a mechanistic model, which it was not. This was because no two persons were identical, and what was suited to one might have been unsuitable to another. Most importantly, if individuality was stifled by an atmosphere of conformity, the exercise of choice by an individual was also stifled. It was this exercise of choice, the liberty to choose, that Mill was primarily concerned with.According to Mill, it was only through a regular exercise of choice that a man benefited from developing his faculties of perception, reason, discriminate feeling, and even moral preference. Without this, man was no more than a machine, devoid of his own desires, wishes, opinions and even feelings.Thus, to Mill, it was only in an atmosphere where people were free to carry out ' experiments of living' (Mill, 1978: 54) where men differed and acted differently without fear, and where they were free to choose unhindered, could individuality flourish. And, for Mill, individuality and progress were synonymous. He was of the opinion that it was only when people were obviously different could superior modes of living, values and behaviour could have been seen. His belief that diversity aided progress reminds me of Darwin's theory of evolution, where the strongest traits are carried on, while weaker, vulnerable characteristics die off. In a nutshell, Mill was convinced that the singularly most important benefit of liberty was the progress of humankind.Similar to Hobbes, Mill saw the necessity of imposing certain restraints on liberty, albeit in only specific circumstances where interference could be legitimately warranted. This single premise however, remains one of the few similarities between the two regarding liberalism. Hobbes' need derived from his perception of the state of nature where men couldn't be free because of their constant fear of death and fear of power from each other and provided a solution through his sovereign state where the sovereign ruled with the sole concern of protecting its citizens from reverting back to the state of nature. Mill, saw the same need and stated so in his 'one very simple principle' (Mill, 1978: 9) that the only legitimate reason for constraint upon a man's liberty was for self-protection and to prevent harm to others. Hence, both saw the need for some kind of intervention should an individual's liberty become in jeopardy. Mill however, vastly furthered his investigation.To clarify things further, Mill distinguished between two types of actions: One, actions which concerned only the agent (self-regarding actions) and two, actions that concerned others besides the agent. As soon as any part of an individual's conduct affected adversely the interests of others, society had a legitimate right to intervene. Whether to intervene or not depended on whether general welfare was promoted. In each person's own concern, he was free to do as he pleased, as he alone would bear the consequences.Taken on the surface, this attempt to have clearly demarcated a sphere in which an individual safely operated without fear of societal interference was very clear-cut and satisfactory. Outside this sphere, society only warned, advised and basically tried to convince the individual when it saw its lifestyle or actions as deviant and harmful to himself. But, it had no legitimate right to actively constrain him, hinder him or impede his freedom to do as he liked in that sphere. Neither did it have the right to punish him, either by law or by moral disapproval. This would then be what Mill termed as 'tyranny of the law ' and 'tyranny of opinion' (Mill, 1978: 64).Where there were problems that arose from ambiguity, Mill resolved themhimself. He acknowledged the fact that some self-regarding actions wouldinevitably affect others. To resolve this complexity, Mill brought in the concept of duty and obligation. As long as his conduct did not violate a distinct obligation to another, such as a man to his wife and children, he would not be morally castigated, or legally punished by society. If he was so punished, it was for his breach of duty and not for the original self-regarding action. An example given by Mill was the difference between a soldier on duty getting drunk and an ordinary man in the same inebriated state; the latter would be left alone as his action was self-regarding but the former, would be punished not for the self-regarding original action of drinking, but for having neglected his public duty.Thus, in short, Mill's attempt to explain legitimate constraints on libertyrested upon a clearly defined sphere where a man could freely do as hepleased when what he did affected only himself and not others, andwhen he didn't violate any social or private obligation.

RELATED

Utilitarianism and John Stuart Mill - Hofstra University; Philosophy 14 - Essay

656 words - 3 pages Nora Darragh Utilitarianism Originally established by Jeremy Bentham, the functional belief of Benthamism was well altered by his successor John Stuart Mill, who popularized it as Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism and its main concept is that whether actions are morally right or the opposite. Mill’s doctrine of utility explains that in order to obtain happiness, there must be a pursuit in gaining happiness and the

Nicomachean Ethics and Utilitarianism - Philosophy - Research Paper

1062 words - 5 pages about themselves. The simple act of making someone feel better creates a thrill that ultimately inspired me to pursue Biology, in hopes of someday becoming a doctor. Both Aristotle and John Stuart Mill embody this reasoning. Aristotle says to have good habits and to take action in them. John Stuart Mill also focuses on happiness and habits, but most importantly the action of spreading happiness. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle is seen

On Liberty Paper detailing what the book is about and how this book impacted politics - CBC Raines - Book Report

991 words - 4 pages ‘On Liberty’ Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Goodreads, Second edition, vi, 207. One of the most important political philosophers of all time is John Stuart Mill, and his most popular work is On Liberty. In On Liberty Mill’s applies his philosophical system of utilitarianism to the government and argues that a government's primary goal should be protecting its citizens' individual liberty, while also not allowing this liberty of one to infringe

Assignment On Mill And Justice- Philosophy

1546 words - 7 pages individual implies and testifies to this more binding obligation." (40)Ashton DoughertyBibliographyPhilosophy 1301 Introductory to Philosophy class notes."Utilitarianism: John Stuart Mill". Bennett, Jonathan. Editorial. September 2005.

Evaluate the view that Utilitarianism continues to offer a useful way of resolving moral dilemmas - St ambrose college, 6fr - Essay

1523 words - 7 pages Free on his original idea, and the first person to do so was the Scottish philosopher and economist, John Stuart Mill. He had similar views on how utilitarianism can be used to solve moral dilemmas as instead of focusing on the quantity of pleasure created in a situation, Mill focused on the quality of the pleasure created. Mill believed the quality of the pleasure was more important and thus, he developed the theory of qualitative utilitarianism

Digital Revolution and Freedom of Expression - Criminology 2018 - Essay

2181 words - 9 pages , also known as suspicion of government.[footnoteRef:3] Cyberspace and cyber technologies support and contribute to Mills arguments, while also contributing to ensuring civil liberties, such as right to education, privacy, and freedom of expression. [3: Mill, John Stuart, “The Structure and Content of Rights”, On Liberty, Oxford University Press (1859) at 356] The search for truth and betterment of the community mainly deals with the importance of

Coping With Hard Times

3330 words - 14 pages period of great progress and sorrow, social writers like Charles Dickens, Friedrich Engels, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Mayhew, inform about the methods people use to endure their sufferings, and conclude that the people should ultimately reside such methods as to sports, unionized revolution, love, imagination, and creative education to cope with their distresses.The Victorian Era of both prosperity and suffering was originally engendered by the

Is pornography harmful to society - Human relation - Essay

2299 words - 10 pages . Law Review, 1997, para 13 Home Office, 'Consultation: On the possession of extreme pornographic material' [2005], para 31 R v Coutts, [2007] 1 Cr App R 6 CPS, 'CPS Guidelines, Extreme Pornography' (cps.gov.uk 2008) accessed 2 May 2014 Dyzenhaus, David, John Stuart Mill and the Harm of Pornography, “Ethics”, vol. 102, n. 3, 1992, pp. 534-55 John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, 1869 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s 63(6)(b

Is self-determination a good idea? - Durham University - Theory & History of IR - Formative Assignment

1823 words - 8 pages size fits all form of self-determination. Classical philosophists were already arguing over a century before WWII. John Stuart Mill believed that ‘the question of government ought to be decided by the governed’, recognising the value of uniting members of the same nationality, as ‘a common nationality, including a common language, was a prerequisite for republic government…free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different

Bibliographical Notes Classical Theorists - Western - Assignment

733 words - 3 pages widely spread by Europes greatest intellectuals and influenced the thinking of Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill and George Eliot. What are his main contributions to sociological theories? Comte was named the “Father of sociology” and believed in “positivism”, and felt sociology could make society a better place for everyone. Comte use of research was not as thorough as it is today, which is why most of his conclusions have been disregarded, due to

legalization of marijuana in canada - mcmaster - essay

934 words - 4 pages Legalization of Marijuana �1 Critical Examination on Why Canada Should Legalize Marijuana Tasneem (Taz) Eggeh 400131907 HLTH AGE 1AA3 Professor G. Voros Allison Mcneil T04 Oct 4th, 2017 Legalization of Marijuana �2 Within our society it has been proven that the moral agendas that shapes our cultural beliefs derive from the aristocratic members of a society. This hypothesis was validated by John Stuart Mill and his assumptions of liberty

A Movement: Romanticism and Liberalism Interference - English 3200 - Research and paper discussing the Romantic Era

1889 words - 8 pages anything that was not abstract; something tangible and mundane. It came in the wake of the English industrial Revolution. Its founder, Jremy Bentham, decided it meant quantifiable pleasure and that government should promote the greatest pleasure of the greatest number of people. 
 John.Stuart.Mill (1806-73) Born into the family of a leading member of the British Utilitarian school, James Mill, John Stuart Mill championed the utilitarian theory

Utilitarianism and Capital Punishment - Study of Religion - Essay

1222 words - 5 pages order to increase our happiness and pleasure, thus allowing us to live a good life. Utilitarianism is the moral theory that states that the the level of morality of an action is determined by “the balance of good over evil that is produced by that action” (Pecorino, n.d.). The most important classical utilitarians are Jeremy Bentham and his protégée John Stuart Mill, both of which were renowned theorists and social reformers. Their fundamental

Government of the United States - government - essay

2084 words - 9 pages Judicial Review Judiciary Act of 1801 ● Designed to protect the Constitution against Democratic-Republicans ● Increased the number of courts ○ Created judge positions for Federalists ● Six to Five members of the Supreme Court ○ Block democratic-republicans from appointing a judge for a long time ● John Marshall was appointed Chief Justice ○ Previously Secretary of State ■ Left appointment letters on his desk ● Democratic-Republican Congress

Literary Analysis - Hills like White Elephants - WR 303 - Literary Analysis

1555 words - 7 pages 1 Madison Evans Jake Sauvageau WR 303 Literary Analysis 8/30/18 Ernest Hemingway’s Hills like White Elephants The short story Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway is a story about a man and woman who are sitting at a bar at a small train station somewhere in Spain. They seem to be having a heated conversation about a mysterious “operation”. The author never explicitly says what the issue is between the man and woman, but it can be