On Liberty

On Liberty

by John Stuart Mill
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Overview

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

On Liberty is a philosophical work by British philosopher John Stuart Mill, originally intended as a short essay. Mill's marriage to his wife Harriet greatly influenced the concepts in On Liberty, which was largely finished prior to her death, and published in 1859 shortly after she died. The work applies Mill's ethical system of utilitarianism to society and the state. Mill attempts to establish standards for the relationship between authority and liberty. He emphasizes the importance of individuality which he conceived as a prerequisite to the higher pleasures—the summum bonum of Utilitarianism. Furthermore, Mill criticized the errors of past attempts to defend individuality where, for example, democratic ideals resulted in the "tyranny of the majority". Among the standards established in this work are Mill's three basic liberties of individuals, his three legitimate objections to government intervention, and his two maxims regarding the relationship of the individual to society "which together form the entire doctrine of [Mill's] Essay."

On Liberty was a greatly influential and well received work though it did not go without criticism. Some attacked it for its apparent discontinuity with Utilitarianism, while others criticized its vagueness. The ideas presented in On Liberty have remained the basis of much liberal political thought. It has remained in print continuously since its initial publication. To this day, a copy of On Liberty is passed to the president of the British Liberal Democrats as a symbol of office.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014594271
Publisher: Mundus Publishing
Publication date: 07/06/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 150
File size: 347 KB

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On Liberty (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In an attempt to examine individual freedoms, John Stuart Mill provides his utilitarian idea of a strong protection of rights in On Liberty. Mill outlines what he considers to be the major influencing factors that determine societies¿ power and individual rights, and produces what he considers to be the most significant development in his discussion: his belief that man should have ultimate sovereignty on his own decisions as long as they do not harm anyone else. With this ¿harm principle¿ in mind, Mill discloses three individual liberties that are of grave importance: freedom of thought/opinion/speech, freedom of action and freedom to unite. He provides an overview of his perspectives on the right to these personal freedoms and the burden of societal and governmental restriction upon these freedoms. Mill also recognizes that the only appropriate application of societal or governmental power should be in order to protect, and that outside of the function of providing a means for self-protection for each individual, society as a whole should not impose power that influences man's capacity for free choice. In summary, I believe this particular essay by Mill to be a crucial link in the development of individual freedoms. On Liberty, to me, is an endeavor to illustrate the ideas and theories of a man ahead of history, which brings about a series of important ideas and thoughts that outline what individual freedoms truly are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Mill has challenged us to reach the bounds of Liberty in our every action and deed. Concepts of Freedom and Liberty come to life in his essay which challenges not only his contemporary society but all societies to come. It is interesting to note his comments about current society and governments being capable of addressing this issue. There are still many governments in this 21st century world who do not subscribe to the philosophy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for my Honors Compostition class at North Dakota State Univ. The book is definitely a slow read, make sure you have lots of time to read it (you'll probably find yourself re-reading large chunks of it). Mill's viewpoint is definitely extreme, from my point of view. He writes from a very liberal point of view, and suggests allowing no restrictions on human liberty except when another person would be endangered. Several of his arguments seem week and he adds very strange exceptions to his ideas. The book is interesting, but not a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Stuart Mill has a grasp on Liberty and a fearlessness in communicating it that is unmatched. I read some of the reviews on here, such as from that "composition teacher" who calls John's agruements "week" and was depressed that people miss the points here. Liberty for all, one day I hope all people understand Liberty as John did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All Americans need to read this!
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hates_sunlight More than 1 year ago
The text is really garbled. The proofreaders should be fired and blacklisted.