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Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - John Stuart Mill, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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John Stewart Mills’ continued
Against Censorship
Mills defends complete freedom of though and discussion
It is never justifiable to silence the expression of an opinion, whether it is true
or false
Response: cant we suppress, harmful, or false views?
Mills – how can we know they’re false?
Many certainties have turned out to be false
To censor without testing it is to assume infallibility
Is it always better to know the truth?
Some knowledge can be harmful (weapons)
Knowledge can lead to the dissolution of society (atheism?)
Dostoevsky: “Necessary Illusions”
Can’t we suppress opinions that aren’t useful?
How can we know whether it is useful or not?
Do we know that atheism will destroy society?
Another reason not to censor false views
False views can function as a challenge (e.g. creationism)
Dead dogma versus living truth
Enables believers of the truth to defend themselves
When expression should be limited
It’s always wrong to censor a view
But it is legitimate to restrict the expression if it is likely to directly instigate
harm to others
But what does Harm Mean?
Distinction between offensive actions and actions that cause harm
To harm someone is to damage their interests
True or false
According to John Stuart Mill, harming another’s interests is sufficient to
justify constraint
Harming others interests not sufficient to justify constraint
Its sometimes legitimate to allow people to harm others interests
Ex. Competitive exams, job competition
Why limit individual liberty?
The action in question harms interests that out to be considered as rights
Not all interests should be considered as rights
Which rights do we have?
Why do we have rights? 3 prominent answers:
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