John Stuart Mill On Liberty
“On Liberty” is a philosophical work written by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill. It was first published in 1859 and remains one of the most influential texts on political philosophy and the concept of individual liberty.
In “On Liberty,” Mill argues for the importance of individual freedom and the limitations of governmental authority. He contends that society should only restrict individual actions if they cause harm to others, emphasizing the principle of harm principle. According to this principle, the only justified reason for limiting individual liberty is to prevent harm to others. Mill famously expresses this idea with the statement: “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.”
Mill also discusses the concept of “tyranny of the majority,” warning against the potential for democratic societies to suppress the opinions and actions of minority groups. He advocates for a robust protection of individual liberties and free expression to ensure a diverse and flourishing society.
The work touches upon various aspects of individual freedom, including freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the importance of open debate and discussion. “On Liberty” is considered a classic in the field of political philosophy and has had a significant impact on the development of liberal thought and the understanding of civil liberties.