On Liberty

On Liberty

by John Stuart Mill
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Overview

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

Published in 1859, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty presented one of the most eloquent defenses of individual freedom in nineteenth-century social and political philosophy and is today perhaps the most widely-read liberal argument in support of the value of liberty. Mill’s passionate advocacy of spontaneity, individuality, and diversity, along with his contempt for compulsory uniformity and the despotism of popular opinion, has attracted both admiration and condemnation.

About the Author:
John Stuart Mill was born in a suburb of London on May 20, 1806. By the age of ten he was reading classical authors in the original Greek and Latin, was proficient in history, algebra, and geometry, and soon after began to study logic, political economy, and law. He was elected to Parliament in 1865 and held the Radical seat for Westminster for the next three years. Mill died in Avignon, France, on May 7, 1873.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607782575
Publisher: MobileReference
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Series: Mobi Classics
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 326,626
File size: 214 KB

About the Author

John Stuart Mill (1806 -1873) was a British philosopher and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by Jeremy Bentham, although his conception of it was very different from Bentham's. Hoping to remedy the problems found in an inductive approach to science, such as confirmation bias, he clearly set forth the premises of falsification as the key component in the scientific method. Mill was also a Member of Parliament and an important figure in liberal political philosophy. John Stuart Mill's view on liberty, which was influenced by Joseph Priestley and Josiah Warren, is that the individual ought to be free to do as he wishes unless he harms others. Individuals are rational enough to make decisions about their good being and choose any religion they want to. Government should interfere when it is for the protection of society. Mill explains, "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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

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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.