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On Liberty ch 1-5 notes .doc

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Political Science
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Todd Alway

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On Liberty Ch.1: - The appropriate region of human liberty: (pg. 10) 1.  “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,”  “The liberty of expressing and publishing opinions may seem to fall under a different principle, since it belongs to that part of the conduct of an individual which concerns other people; but, being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, and resting in great part on the same reasons, is practically inseparable from it.” 2.  “The principle requires liberty if 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; without impediment from our fellow- creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them” 3.  “freedom to unite, for any purpose not involving harm to others:”  “…not forced or deceived.”  “No society in which these liberties are not, on the whole, respected is free, …”  “…none is completely free in which they do not exist absolute and unqualified.” - “…Liberty of Thought: from which it is impossible to separate the cognate liberty of speaking and of writing.” (pg. 12) Ch.2: - “…the ‘ liberty of the press’ …” (pg. 13) - “No argument, we may suppose, can now be needed, against permitting a legislature or an executive, no identified in interest with the people, to prescribe opinions to them, and determine what doctrines or what arguments they shall be allowed to hear.” (pg. 13) - Doctrine = a set of beliefs or principles held and taught by a church, political party, or other group. - “.., it is not…, to be apprehended that the government, ..., will often attempt to control the expression of opinion, except when in doing so it makes itself the organ of the general intolerance of the public.” (pg. 14)  E.g. “…deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate.” - Think: (pg. 14) 1. “If all mankind minus one, were……., would be justified in silencing mankind.”  If one person’s opinion opposed against mankind’s opinion, is it okay for mankind to silence that one man’s opinion, and it is right for mankind to silence that one person’s opinion? How are either silenced oppositions justified? 2. “If the opinion is right, they are deprived…., produced by its collision with error.” - (pg. 14-15) o The two hypotheses… o “To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty.” o “All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” o Theory: “…every one well knows himself to be fallible, few think it necessary to take any precautions against their own fallibility, “ o “Judgement is given to men that they may use it.” o “If we were never to act on our opinions, because those opinions may be wrong, we should leave all our interests uncared for, and all our duties unperformed.” - The idea of, (pg. 16-17) 1. Opinions need to be challenged whether they may be true or false in order to develop and learn what is really true.  “”The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with
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