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 looks at particular examples and applications of the theory, to clarify the meaning of his claims.
Mill's essay has been criticized for being overly vague about the limits of liberty, for placing too much of an emphasis on the individual, and for not making a useful distinction between actions that only harm oneself, and actions that harm others. That said, the essay does provide an impassioned defense of nonconformity as a positive good for society, and an equally impassioned reminder that no one can be completely sure that his or her way of life is the best or the only way to live.
Home Philosophy On Liberty Summary. King Charles I was beheaded and Oliver Cromwell succeeded him. Even in the regime of Cromwell when people failed to attain their freedom, the British continued their struggle for freedom. As a result of it, people succeeded in attaining the absolute monarchy of their cruel rulers for a long period.
This long struggle resulted in the outbreak of the famous French Revolution in But even this political upheaval could not help people in attaining their long desired liberty.
The successors of Napoleon behaved like absolute monarchs. At last after the fall of Napoleon III, Third Republic was established and people succeeded in attaining their liberty in the real sense of the term.
Just as people struggle for individual liberty for a long period of time, so slave countries also go on struggling against the foreign yoke till they succeed in attaining independence. In nineteenth century, Italy and m twentieth century, India, Algeria and many other countries made untold sacrifice for the noble cause of attaining their independence.
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. While David Brink concedes that Mill's apparently categorical appeal to rights seems to contradict utilitarianism, he points out that Mill does not believe rights are truly categorical because Mill opposes unrestrained liberty e.
Furthermore, David Brink tries to reconcile Mill's system of rights with utilitarianism in three ways: Some thinkers have criticised Mill's writing for its apparent narrow or unclear focus in several areas. 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.
Nigel Warburton states that though Mill encourages religious tolerance, because he does not speak from the perspective of a specific religion, some claim that he does not account for what certain religious beliefs would entail when governing a society. 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. The harm principle is central to the principles in On Liberty. Early in the book, he claims that simply being offensive does not constitute harm. Warburton notes that some people argue that morality is the basis of society, and that society is the basis of individual happiness. 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. Mill is clear that his concern for liberty does not extend to all individuals and all societies. 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.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the book by Shami Chakrabarti, see On Liberty This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed.
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The title page of the first edition, published On Liberty at Wikisource. First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. 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.
Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.
And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: It really is of importance, not only what men do, but also what manner of men they are that do it. Among the works of man, which human life is rightly employed in perfecting and beautifying, the first in importance surely is man himself.
Supposing it were possible to get houses built, corn grown, battles fought, causes tried, and even churches erected and prayers said, by machinery—by automatons in human form—it would be a considerable loss to exchange for these automatons even the men and women who at present inhabit the more civilised parts of the world, and who assuredly are but starved specimens of what nature can and will produce.
Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.
The maxims are, first, that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself.
Liberty is a magic concept which has inspired millions to revolt and the history of mankind is nothing but the story of liberty. The celebrated French philosopher Rousseau on the eve of the French Revolution of made a historic declaration "Man is born free but is everywhere in chains". It is a.
Liberty is derived from the Latin word liber which means free. It is a word of negative meaning denoting absence of restraint. Its primary significance is to do what one likes, regardless of all consequences. But this is obviously impossibility. Liberty in the sense of a complete absence of restraint cannot exist. We cannot live [ ].
John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty, which contains a rational justification of the liberty of the individual in opposition to the claims of the state to impose unrestricted control. Other articles deaing with liberty, freedom and democracy, with . On Liberty study guide contains a biography of John Stuart Mill, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Other articles where On Liberty is discussed: John Stuart Mill: The later years: The essay On Liberty appeared in with a touching dedication to her and the Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform in the same year. In his Considerations on Representative Government () he systematized opinions already put forward in many casual . Importance of Liberty: From the very beginning both man and the state have been making efforts for the security of their freedom. Freedom is a very precious condition without which neither the state nor the individuals can make any progress. We remember very well how cruelly the absolute monarchs ignored the claims of liberty in [ ].