PHIL 115 Lecture Notes - Truism

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Published on 17 Apr 2013
School
Queen's University
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 115
Professor
Page:
of 2
Philosophy 115 Week Two
Lecture One:
- According to Mills, how can we draw the distinction between where the law
should be silent and where it should not be?
- Mills recognizes the old distinction of the private sphere and the public sphere,
but adds his own twist of self regarding and other regarding actions.
- A self-regarding action is an action that directly, significantly and solely
concerns the person who is committing to the action.
- Mills believes that the state should not have an impact on these self-
regarding actions; ie. Your taste in music.
- As it is only the actor’s business it should be nobody else’s.
- Other regarding actions are actions that impact other members of society.
- Critics of Mills would state that there is no such thing as a self-regarding
action as there is always a chain of individuals that is somehow
inadvertently affected by your choice.
- For Plato, it is more important that individuals act in a just way, then through their
own happiness.
- All of Mills’ arguments for human rights and liberty rest on a utilitarian premise;
that these issues are imperative for the common good.
- The purpose of government is to pursue the common good; there is no better
argument for human liberty than the common good.
- Mill’s Individual Liberty
- We often expect governments to pass laws that violate our individual
liberties.
- The ideal of individual liberty has evolved into a truism, an empty truth
that we take for granted.
- When a political ideal becomes taken for granted, it is essentially lost.
- Modern society is highly conformist; therefore the truism of individual
liberty is failing.
- Why do we care so much about freedom in the mind?
- We expect government to not coerce people into their personal beliefs.
- We expect this unless the majority and the government hold the same
views; then the government can be expected the government to legislate.
- We should object to any measure the government takes to ensure or coerce
the beliefs into the individual citizens.
- Suppose we expect the government to legislate against or for certain
ideals. Ie. The Cold War (legislations around communist sympathizers and
activists).
- Simply because a member of government is elected, it does not mean that
the knowledge of politicians is superior to the rest of society; they are
equally fallible as the rest of us.
- As none of these politicians are infallible, Mills believes that government
should not be able to legislate an individual’s beliefs or freedom of
thought.
- Consider how new ideas arise, where does an idea originate from?
- According to Mills, an idea is conceived as a minority view.
- It takes time for a new idea to become accepted as true and become a
majority ideal. Ie. The concept of evolution.
- In order for an idea to rise, it has to stand up to criticism. What we
shouldn’t do is try to immunize it from criticism.
- Criticism is what allows the idea to become more refined and work out the
truths within the hypothesis.
- Therefore, we shouldn’t assume that what passes for knowledge today
may not or should not pass for knowledge later.
-

Document Summary

Mills recognizes the old distinction of the private sphere and the public sphere, but adds his own twist of self regarding and other regarding actions. A self-regarding action is an action that directly, significantly and solely concerns the person who is committing to the action. Mills believes that the state should not have an impact on these self- regarding actions; ie. your taste in music. As it is only the actor"s business it should be nobody else"s. Other regarding actions are actions that impact other members of society. Critics of mills would state that there is no such thing as a self-regarding action as there is always a chain of individuals that is somehow inadvertently affected by your choice. For plato, it is more important that individuals act in a just way, then through their own happiness. All of mills" arguments for human rights and liberty rest on a utilitarian premise; that these issues are imperative for the common good.