The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties or the moral coercion of public opinion. The principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That 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.
Composition[ edit ] According to Mill's Autobiography, On Liberty was first conceived as a short essay in As the ideas developed, the essay was expanded, rewritten and "sedulously" corrected by Mill and his wife, Harriet Taylor. Mill, after suffering a mental breakdown and eventually meeting and subsequently marrying Harriet, changed many of his beliefs on moral life and women's rights.
Mill states that On Liberty "was more directly and literally our joint production than anything else which bears my name. He divides this control of authority into two mechanisms: Mill admits that this new form of society seemed immune to tyranny because "there was no fear of tyrannizing over self.
First, even in democracy, the rulers were not always the same sort of people as the ruled.
Where one can be protected from a tyrant, it is much harder to be protected "against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling. Mill's proof goes as follows: The only justification for a person's preference for a particular moral belief is that it is that person's preference.
On a particular issue, people will align themselves either for or against that issue; the side of greatest volume will prevail, but is not necessarily correct.
That 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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
For example, according to Mill, children and "barbarian" nations are benefited by limited freedom. Mill concludes the Introduction by discussing what he claimed were the three basic liberties in order of importance: This includes the freedom to act on such thought, i.
Mill attempts to prove his claim from the first chapter that opinions ought never to be suppressed. 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:Liberty John Stuart Mill 1: Introduction another ·enemy·, and to be ruled by a master on condition that they had a fairly effective guarantee against his tyranny, they didn’t try for anything more than this.
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY. THE subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual.
A question seldom stated, and hardly ever . A summary of On Liberty in 's John Stuart Mill (–). Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of John Stuart Mill (–) and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.
John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY THE subject of this Essay is the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised. advocacy in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (), which argues on utilitarian grounds that the state may regulate individual behaviour only in cases where the interests of others would be perceptibly harmed.
John Stuart Mill was my companion for more than three years, while I was writing my dissertation on what I called his New Political Economy (, ).