Chad Evans1/11/182nd QuarterOn Liberty by John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill, the author of On Liberty, was born on May 20th, 1806. Mill lived in Great Britain during the Georgian and the Victorian era. The monarchy during this time period helped Great Britain experience many prosperous advancements in trade and technology.
The middle class thrived while the lower class was literally struggling to survive. In 1873 John Stuart Mill died on May 8th. John Stuart Mill was born and raised as a utilitarian, and wrote most of his books from this perspective. To completely understand his philosophy of his book an understanding of utilitarianism is in order. Utilitarianism is a philosophy that benefits the majority. Utilitarians believe that actions should be taken in order to benefit the majority of society.
In On Liberty Mill displays that the majority of society has the right to not be suppressed by a tyrannical government, but the majority of society should be able to suppress the select few of the government to keep them in check. This is exactly what liberty is, it is the ability to be free from being forcibly ruled. In chapter two of John Mill’s book he stresses the importance of not suppressing opinions. He believes that no matter how wrong an opinion can be he believes that everyone deserves the right to that opinion. In the United States this philosophy is protected in the Bill of Rights.
We the people, have the liberty of free speech. This law is supported in John Mill’s book On Liberty. Mill believes that opinions and new theories should not be suppressed simply because they go against the majority’s opinion.
He found that popular opinion is not always correct. For example, when Galileo was convicted of heresy in the 1600’s Galileo’s opinion was silenced, however, his opinion was based on truth. Mill also believed that even if their opinion is wrong it still benefits society by challenging citizen’s beliefs. He believed that you cannot challenge truth without understanding the opposing side of the argument. No matter how much the truth is suppressed, Mill believed that eventually the truth will become accepted by the majority. In chapter three Mill builds off the previous point from chapter two. He discusses how people’s actions from these opposing opinions should be dealt with in society. Mill’s utilitarian approach to the situation is that people’s action should not harm people or society.
He believes that those individual who do not conform to the same actions and thinking as society are a valuable asset to the community as long as they are not harmful to anyone. These Trail Blazers causes society to be more diverse. Mill believes that people should not conform to the social norms, however, to much free reign could cause us to fall into a barbaric like state where no one is able to organize together. In the last two chapters Mill gives direction of how society should act within itself.
Mill believes that since society offers us protection in our liberty that we are expected to “repay” society by behaving and working with others in society. Mill explains that we should not be harming others way of life because we are part of the same society and we should be working in accordance together. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t disagree, but we should be protecting each other’s rights to thoughts, opinions, and actions. Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Victorian Association of Braille Writers, 1923.