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POLISCI 1020E: Liberty, Part II.docx

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Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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JUSTIFYING THE LIBERTY PRINCIPLE Mill: Why should we limit individual liberty?  the action in question harms interests that ought to be considered rights o not all interests should be considered rights  why do we have rights? o three prominent answers: 1. Self-Evident  just think about it and you will agree  this answer begs the question 2. Custom and Convention  we have the rights that are already respected by the law  makes it impossible to question a legal right 3. Recognizing them Maximizes Utility  actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness (pleasure) Indirect Utilitarianism Revisited  choose the system of rights that maximizes utility (happiness)  can justify a set of rights to liberty, security, property  example: from free thought to truth to utility (free thought leads to truth, and therefore happiness) Does the liberty principle really maximize utility? Couldn't we sometimes produce more happiness by intervening for a person's own good? (paternalism)  eg. Amy Winehouse  J. F. Stephen: Mill is wrong; liberty is not always valuable— it is like fire o depends on the use to which it is put A utilitarian theory of rights need not be a liberal theory.  Mill appeals to utility in the largest sense— humankind o permanent interests of a man as a progressive being o human beings are capable of progress: they can benefit from experience Why liberty, on balance, promotes happiness (for Mill) 1. Individuals generally know best what will make them happy 2. Making choices exercises our distinctively human capacities  human nature is a tree  there is a single truth: choice making and deciding for oneself what one out to be is the basis of liberty 3. “Experiments in living” as examples to be followed Individuality (For Mill)  form thought and character freely and reflectively  make plan of life on our own Pursuing our own good in our own way is the only freedom worth having. Why is liberty valuable?  intrinsic value: comparable to enjoyment o but many people dread freedom  for Mill, liberty is necessary for individual self-realization o without the liberty principle, we will never be able to achieve personal gro
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