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Philosophy 3-31.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 1070
Professor
Robert Mc Gill
Semester
Spring

Description
Philosophy 03/31/2014 Mill On Liberty John Stuart Mill (1806­1873) One of the greatest philosophers of the 19  Century On Liberty  published in 1860 An impassioned defense of individual freedom in the face of the manifold restrictions on it in his time Two Senses of “Liberty” or “Freedom” Moral or metaphysical freedom/liberty Freedom of choice; free will The capacity to choose based on deliberation Political freedom/liberty Freedom from political authority or social majority The ability to act without interference/oppression Free from external constraints Mill’s Concern: The threat of social tyranny, by way of both LAW and CUSTOM Historically, threats to liberty came from kings and aristocrats Solution: Limit the power of the ruler In a Democracy, there is a new threat The tyranny of the majority Laws favored by the majority that restrict the freedoms of individual citizens Can be political (formal) or social (informal) Political Liberty Person X is FREE to do action A when: 1. There is no law prohibiting X from doing A 2. There is no social pressure on X to refrain from doing A Before Mill, political theorists focused on freedom from LAWS that prohibited behaviors Mill is also interested in defending people against social pressure by majority – extra­legal coercion Social Tyranny May be “more formidable than many kinds of political oppression” since is “leaves fewer means of escape  penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.” Those who suffer from a wrongful restriction of liberty may not experience the restriction as onerous or  believe it to be wrongful Mill’s Concern The threat of tyranny over liberty Mill’s Strategy To defend liberty, set a limit on how much state of social coercion is permissible Mill’s Question When does society have the right to coerce the individual? When is 
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