From the Introduction In his Autobiography, Mill predicts that the essay On Liberty is "likely to survive longer than anything else that I have written." He goes on to say that the essay is the expression of a "single truth: " "the importance, to man and society, of a large variety of types of character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions." In the essay itself, Mill defines his subject as "the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual." He defends the absolute freedom of individuals to engage in conduct not harmful to others, and the near-absolute freedom to express and discuss opinions of all kinds. Mill's essay survives, as he had predicted, because his powerful message is still widely rejected by the powerful, and by those who continue to seek power over the lives of others.
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able action admit affect allowed amount argument asserted attempt authority become believe better body called cause character Christian common concerns condition conduct consequences considerable considered contrary custom deny desire discussion doctrine duty enforced equally error evil example exercise exist experience fact feelings force freedom give grounds hold human important improvement individual interests interference judge judgment justify least less liberty limit living majority mankind means ment mental merely mind mode moral nature necessary never object obtain opinion party persecution persons political position possess possible practical preference prevent principle profess progress punishment question reason received regard religion religious render require respect rest rules side social society stand strong supposed things thought tion toleration true truth unless whole wrong
Page 33 - If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
Page 101 - An opinion that corndealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn-dealer, or when handed about among the same mob in the form of a placard.
Page 190 - A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another ; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.
Page 106 - He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation.
Page 24 - I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being.
Page 7 - Liberty : the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual.!
Page 33 - But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance with public opinion than when in opposition to it.
Page 66 - ... struck between two sets of conflicting reasons. Even in natural philosophy there is always some other explanation possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory instead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the true one; and until this is shown, and until we know how it is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion.
Page 140 - ... unfair or ungenerous use of advantages over them; even selfish abstinence from defending them against injury— these are fit objects of moral reprobation, and, in grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment. And not only these acts, but the dispositions which lead to them, are properly immoral, and fit subjects of disapprobation which may rise to abhorrence.