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Lecture 31

PLSC 115 Lecture Notes - Lecture 31: John Stuart Mill, Limited GovernmentPremium

2 pages90 viewsSpring 2016

Political Science
Course Code
PLSC 115

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Mill/Advancing Liberty
Monday, April 25, 2016
1:05 PM
John Stuart Mill
Pleasure and pain are quantitative and may be measured. All pain and pleasure are
not the same. Some things bring us more pain and/or pleasure than others.
Human Nature All people are equal and equality requires that all individuals be free
to develop their personal inner potential to the fullest. He was an advocate of equal
opportunity but at the same time an elitist. He believed that personal development is
uneven, and unique differences must be recognized. Only a small minority can be
called geniuses- they are the leaders in society the rest are followers. Society is at its
best when the geniuses are identified and the rest of the people follow the lead of the
Liberty- The only justification for interfering with anyone else’s liberty is self-defense.
The private life of the individual is beyond the control of others, especially the
government. The job of government is preventing harm to others. An individual’s
independence is absolute.
Mill distinguishes between two kinds of action: public and private
Public acts are those involving the rights of others and it is the job of the government
to regulate such acts. Individuals have a right to self-protection and can be required by
law not to physically harm others.
Education is the key to liberty
Private actions are unrelated to public responsibilities. They are acts that cannot hurt
others and do not affect other people’s rights. People are free to perform them as they
Benefits to liberty
1. Its leads to personal self-realization. By making their own choices in life they are able
to seek self-fulfillment
2. Society as a whole benefits from liberty. Liberty promotes human progress which is
the highest goal of social life (the introduction of new ideas)
Spheres of liberty -
1. Liberty of conscience the expression and publication of personal opinion.
2. Liberty of tastes and pursuits the selection of entertainment as well as career
3. Liberty of combination - free association of individuals who unite for any purpose not
involving harm to others
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