Political Science Lecture 3b.docx

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Political Science
Todd Alway

Political Science 1G06 September 26, 2012 Lecture 3b Liberty On Liberty - A justification for liberty in thought and action: - How free should we be in our day to day lives - How far should individual freedom be tolerated - Subject: “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual” - How much power should society have over our actions Hypothesis: - “The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant” - Social sphere: society can have power - Individual sphere: society should have no power. An area where we are accountable only for ourselves Premise: Certain actions can be considered as individual and self-regarding. Certain actions can be considered as social and other regarding. We can differentiate between the two. Social Obligations: - To not harm the interests of other members of society - To perform a fair share in the defence of society (includes taxation and military service) Individual Rights: - “This, then, is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological…Liberty of tastes and pursuits; of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow…liberty, within the same limits, of combination among individuals; freedom to unite, for any purpose not involving harm to others” - 1. Freedom of speech: “the inward domain of consciousness…absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects” - 2. Freedom of action: “of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow…so long as what we do does not harm [others]” - 3. Freedom of association: “freedom to unite for any purpose not involving harm to others” - There is a degree of tension here between what is purely individual and what is social – since any action has at least indirect social effects: - - However, the tension between the two is guided by this principle: - “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good In our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it” - “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” - Why Liberty as the organizing principle of society? On what basis will a proof be offered: - Primarily Utility: Freedom of speech/action is not only individually useful, but socially useful: Freedom of thought/speech - A seemingly absolute right: - “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind” -Why: - Ideas have a social value: - “Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it” - Freedom of opinion/speech is useful, regardless of the charact
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