John Stewart Mills’ continued
• Mills defends complete freedom of though and discussion
• It is never justifiable to silence the expression of an opinion, whether it is true
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
Harming others interests not sufficient to justify constraint
• Its sometimes legitimate to allow people to harm others interests
• Ex. Comp