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Mill Argument on Liberty

Introduction

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Mill is a true defender of liberty and that can be validated from many different angles throughout his text on individuality as one of the elements of wellbeing. Mill is concerned about protecting individual liberty from the intrusion of society. He maintained that individual has a total right over freedom to express their opinion and that freedom need to be protected. Mill opposed conformity with custom and tradition because customs may act as a greater hindrance to development. Tradition and customs limits individual freedom to think and their ability to make a judgment and exercise their choice because conformity customs is binding. A free society is central in flourishing individuality because there is no constraint. Furthermore, Mill is critiqued for disregarding tradition and equating men as mere eccentricity with individuality.

Summary

Mill emphasized that human beings should be allowed to offer their opinion and to express their opinion without reserve. Liberty is achieved when there is no prohibition where people can freely act upon their opinion. The liberty of the individual should as well be limited when the freedom became a nuisance to other people. According to Mill, actions are not free as opinion because even opinion loses it immunity when the opinion promote mischievous act1. A good example is when free speech and opinion are used to incite others by indicating that corn dealers are starvers of the poor or private property is robbery. This sentiment if circulated through the press should be stopped because freedom to express opinion cannot be used to incite and cause chaos in the community. The consequence of inciting people may motivate others to take action at their hand or assemble with a placard.

Any action that seems to be advocating for some action without justifiable cause may harm others therefore such action requires to be controlled. Once an individual refrains from molesting others in whatever way they use to molest other but start to act on their inclination and judge things concerning themselves then those reason shows that opinion should be free. Human beings are imperfect beings, therefore, their opinion is expected to differ from other people and for such reason, all human beings should be allowed to experiment that free scope2. Mill further connects culture and norm on its interference to individual liberty. According to a mill, an individual who does anything so long as it the customs make no choice and as well that person gains no practice either in desiring what is best. Mill reiterates that individual brain muscles only improve when they are used and the brain is called into existence to strengthen his reasoning.

Individual who chooses his plan for himself and employs his faculty should as well use observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, activity, gather material for a decision, discrimination to decide and then hold firmness and self-control when deliberating on such decision3. People should desirable exercise their understanding and follow customs intelligently because following customs with intelligence is better than following them blindly. Mill further outlines that the development of individuality is more valuable and important because it helps improve individual values to others hence promoting greater fullness of life4. There is greater importance in protecting human nature and his liberty from being encroached. People lose a lot of development of individuality when they are prevented from gratifying their inclination.

When an individual is held for their ridged rule of justice that is achieved for the sake of other people then such action develops feelings and capacities which are valuable. Consequently, when people an individual is held up for the action that were not promoting good then their displeasure develop nothing valuable except that force of character that unfolds itself while resisting the restrain. Resisting restrain is one measure of fighting for liberty for himself if not for the sake of other people.

Interpretation

Mill meant that people have absolute liberty of thought and expression and those thoughts and expression do not compose the entire life. Individuals need to make choices and interacts with others. Furthermore, Mill makes it clear that people have their personal preferences and tastes in all aspects of life and that explains the uniqueness of people. A human cannot stay stagnant without development but they are like trees that grow and develop themselves over time due to inwards forces that give individual meaning experimenting living5. Mill did not agree or support conformity with customs and culture because he believed that customs may act as a greater hindrance to human advancement. Mill perceptive about following customs is that people will not decide because they will follow what already has been done without thoughts. For example, if customs determine certain behaviors then people will not question such customs instead they hope on following without thinking. Individual perception and ability to make a judgment are only enhanced when they are allowed to exercise their choice. Follow custom limits people from making choices and gain no meaning of desiring what is the best.

Weakness and Strength

Mill strength of his argument on individuality centrally opposes blind submission of oneself to the customs and tradition of one society6. His perspective on individuality motive was to reform by focusing on how to improve humankind. Furthermore, Mill despised knowledge and wisdom contained in the tradition of one society because he believed that such knowledge was only applicable to ordinary men living in an ordinary situation but not all men. People are different and some may not be living a typical life therefore such customary practice has nothing to offer. According to Mill, people needed to make deliberate and considered alternatives beliefs and patterns of life. He believes that freedom and variety were central in allowing people to discover themselves.

The criticism that shows Mill’s philosophical weakness is that he equates mere eccentricity with individuality. Mill fails when he argues that a man is only himself when succeeds in being different from other men as if being individuality was a form of habit. In his argument, he disregarded the roles of tradition in providing content for the form of individuality. I agree with Mill argument that insinuates that following traditions only make an individual, not think and develop because an individual is bound to those traditions and has no right to think7. Mill stressed the importance of free society because he believed that free society is where individuality may flourish whenever possible. After all, it is not constrained or tempered with. For example, societal customs that limit the voice of women-only retrained them from free speech and that significantly affect their self-development.

Conclusion

According to Mill, individuality was a blind submission of oneself to the custom and traditions of one society. Mills believed that freedom of speech could allow the views and interest of the minority to have fair hearing hence when one experience his ideas that person should not be persecuted by the greater public. Even though Mill supports freedom of speech he further emphasizes that free speech should not be used to harm others. Those using speech to incite should be limited from expressing their views because that person has infringed the rules necessary for the protection of his fellow-creature, individuality, and collectively. Individuals should only pursue individuality only within the limit of imposed rights and the interest of others. Mill is criticized for disregarding tradition and customs forgetting that tradition plays a significant role in promoting individuality.

Bibliography

Mill, J. S. (1859). Of individuality, as one of the elements of well-being. On liberty, 72-89.

Spong, H. (2011). Individuality and freedom: from aesthetic individualism to a modern approach. NYUJL & Liberty, 6, 1. Retrieved from https://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_069127.pdf

Strasser, Mark. “Mill and the Utility of Liberty.” The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-) 34, no. 134 (1984): 63-68. Accessed February 23, 2021. doi:10.2307/2218890.

Thilly, Frank. “The Individualism of John Stuart Mill.” The Philosophical Review 32, no. 1 (1923): 1-17. Accessed February 23, 2021. doi:10.2307/2179029.

1Mill, J. S. (1859). Of individuality, as one of the elements of well-being. On liberty, 72-89.

2Mill, J. S. (1859). Of individuality, as one of the elements of well-being. On liberty, 72-89.

3Spong, H. (2011). Individuality and freedom: from aesthetic individualism to a modern approach. NYUJL & Liberty, 6, 1. Retrieved from https://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_069127.pdf

4Mill, J. S. (1859). Of individuality, as one of the elements of well-being. On liberty, 72-89.

5Spong, H. (2011). Individuality and freedom: from aesthetic individualism to a modern approach. NYUJL & Liberty, 6, 1. Retrieved from https://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_069127.pdf

6Thilly, Frank. “The Individualism of John Stuart Mill.” The Philosophical Review 32, no. 1 (1923): 1-17. Accessed February 23, 2021. doi:10.2307/2179029.

7Strasser, Mark. “Mill and the Utility of Liberty.” The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-) 34, no. 134 (1984): 63-68. Accessed February 23, 2021. doi:10.2307/2218890

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