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 upon another's freedom of thought and emotion. Utilitarianism, the philosophical movement started by Bentham, is a theory of ethics that argues that the most moral action in any given situation is whatever brings the most pleasure to the most amount of people. John Stuart Mill was born in London in 1806 and given a rigorous education by his father, a political philosopher was a friend and follower of Jeremy Bentham. Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. His father deliberately set out to create a genius who could carry on Bentham's philosophy of utilitarianism. Mill spent his career as an administrator for the British East India Company, the company charged with ruling the colony of India, and later as a university administrator, while constantly studying and writing about utilitarianism and other philosophical subjects. It was widely read at the time, and in the century and a half since then, it has proven to be one of the most influential books of political philosophy of all time.
In On Liberty, Mill rejects attempts, either through legal pressure or social pressure, to persuade people's opinions and behavior. He argues that the only time this is acceptable is when a person's behavior harms other people; otherwise, society should treat diversity with respect. In his first chapter, Mill provides a brief overview of the meaning of liberty. He also introduces his basic argument in favor of respecting liberty, to the degree it does not harm anybody else. His next two chapters detail why liberty of opinion and liberty of action are so valuable. His fourth chapter discusses the appropriate level of authority that society should have over the individual. His fifth chapter gives examples and reasons why he is right. Over these 5 chapter he gives 3 liberties that he points out that every individual should be entitled too. The freedom of thought and emotion, the freedom to pursue tastes and the freedom to unite. Of these three, Mill clearly thought the first was most important and spends the greatest amount of time on it. He basically argues for a freedom of speech: the ability to give voice to any thoughts or emotion no matter how unpopular. In fact, he celebrates the person who is different and causes people to think. Mill’s believes that experience and research are the keys to knowledge and completely rejects the i...