Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Freedom, Society, Democracy, Liberty, Harm, Violence, Ethics, Utilitarianism

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/03

New WowEssays Premium Database!

Find the biggest directory of over
1 million paper examples!

J.S Mill is one of the earliest and most famous proponents of liberty and liberal school of thought. He believes very strongly in individual freedom and he talks at a great length about the significance of liberty for the growth of the society. Mill’s essay on liberty is a cornerstone of Liberalism. However, he is not in favor of unbridled liberty and he apart from vigorously defending individual freedom also suggests some limitations on individual freedom as well. The arguments Mill brings forth with regards to the limitation on the individual freedom can be summed up in one major criterion known as the “harm principle”. Mill endeavors to portray when the power of society can rightly confine individual freedom and the sway of the individual over himself. Mill's answer is that society and the individual ought to get control over only that aspect of human life that is directly related to them.
According to Mill, the so-called harm principle is the only rule regarding the restriction of individual liberty and freedom. In Mill’s own words, “That 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.” In his opinion, the criterion is that the only reason for which humanity are justified, independently or as a whole, in meddling with the freedom of any of its member, is the protection of others. That the main reason for which power can be legitimately practiced over any part of a person’s life will be to prevent the harm to other people. His own particular wellbeing is not a sufficient warrant for society to meddle. He can't legitimately be urged to do or abstain in light of the fact that it will be better for him to do as such, that it will make him more content, that to do as such would be right.
While dismissing the thought of a social contract, Mill remarks that since individuals get the assurance of the society, they owe a certain obligation to the society as a returning favor. He writes, “What, then, is the rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself? everyone who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each should be found to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest.” People should not harm those interests of other individuals that ought to be considered rights. Accordingly, society has authority over any part of human conduct that influences preferentially the rights of others. When any piece of an individual's behavior influences primarily the interests of others, society has an authority over it, and the inquiry whether the general welfare will or won't be advanced by meddling with it, gets to be interested in discourse. In any case, there is no space for enlivening any such question when an individual's behavior influences the interests and rights of no persons other than himself. This would leave us with the question what defines individual rights and Mill addresses this issue in his famous essay Utilitarianism. A close analysis of the essay depicts that Mill provides for some or other utilitarian response to all moral inquiries, including the inquiry before us of what moral or social rights an individual has, what legitimate and standard rights he should have. The response to the inquiry is the principle of utility. Jeremy Bentham's articulations of the Principle of Utility or Greatest Happiness Principle is quite clear. By the Principle of Utility is meant the principle which sanctions or opposes every activity or action, in light of the fact that whether the action inclined to expand or diminish the overall “happiness”. In the words of Mill, “The happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agent's own happiness, but that of all concerned. As between his own happiness and that of others, utilitarianism requires him to be as strictly impartial as a disinterested and benevolent spectator.”
In addition, he addresses the issue of freedom with regards to taking one’s own life. He proceeds by tending to the topic of social impedance in suicide. He expresses that the reason for freedom is to permit an individual to seek after their own interests. Consequently, when an individual plans to end their capacity to have interest and rights it is admissible for society to venture in. At the end of the day, an individual does not have the freedom to surrender their ability to have the freedom of actions and opinions. Though suicide does not involve harming others or it doesn’t directly undermine the rights of others, but since as a result of the suicide a person loses his ability to enjoy freedom, in this special case, to ensure the existence of liberty the society is allowed to interfere in the personal matter of the individual.
Finally, Mill addresses potential objection against his harm principle. Since an individual is a part of the society, how can any aspect of the behavior of a part of society be a matter of aloofness to other parts? No human is completely secluded, and one person’s activities can harm the individuals who rely on him or can undermine welfare of the whole society. In response, Mill concurs that some conduct may influence the sensitivities and rights of others, or damage the prosperity of society. At the point when an activity abuses an individual's commitments then it doesn't just influence himself, and he can be legitimately confront moral criticism for breaking those commitments. At the end, this is how Mill responded, “Whenever, in short, there is a definite damage or a definite risk of damage, either to an individual or the public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty, and placed in that of morality or law.”

Works Cited

Mill, J. S. (1859). On Liberty.
Mill, J. S. (1861). Utilitarianism.

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2020, November, 03) Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/
"Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?." WePapers, 03 Nov. 2020, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/. Accessed 13 May 2021.
WePapers. 2020. Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?., viewed May 13 2021, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/>
WePapers. Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?. [Internet]. November 2020. [Accessed May 13, 2021]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/
"Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?." WePapers, Nov 03, 2020. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/
WePapers. 2020. "Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved May 13, 2021. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/).
"Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 03-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/. [Accessed: 13-May-2021].
Good Essay On Under What Circumstances Does Mill Think Individual Liberty Should Be Limited?. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/good-essay-on-under-what-circumstances-does-mill-think-individual-liberty-should-be-limited/. Published Nov 03, 2020. Accessed May 13, 2021.
Copy

Share with friends using:

Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.

If you need an original paper created exclusively for you, hire one of our brilliant writers!

GET UNIQUE PAPER
Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now