John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill is a political theorist and economist, civil servant, English philosopher, as well as a member of the Parliament and was a significant Classical liberal believer during the 19th century. His works on liberty rationalized freedom of the individual in conflict to unlimited state control. He was an advocate of utilitarianism, a moral theory explained by Jeremy Bentham, though his notion of it was very dissimilar from that of Bentham’s. He made a clear set of principles for the scientific approach or method.

Mill was married to Harriet Taylor in 1851 after sharing an intimate friendship of 21 years. When they first met, Taylor was married they were already close but deemed to be chaste during the years prior to his first husband’s death. Taylor, being Mill’s close friend and eventually wife was a considerable influence in his works. Mill’s women’s rights advocacy was strengthened because of this relationship with Harriet Taylor. Also, one of his famous works, On Liberty, was influenced by Taylor as well and was published shortly after she died in 1858.

Liberalism is the idea in the significance of the freedom of an individual. Throughout the world, this is generally accepted and was considered to be an essential value by a lot of philosophers all throughout history.
Mill’s work On Liberty, deals with the disposition and limits of the power that can be legally practiced by the society over an individual. Mill also gave an argument about the harm principle. Accordingly, the harm principle deems that every individual has a right or entitlement to act whatever he wants, as long as his actions do not harm the people around him. The society has in no way should interfere if the action taken is self-regarding; meaning it only affects the person doing the deed directly. This is so, even if it seems that the individual doing the action is harming his own self. However, Mill contended that individuals are not permitted to do lasting and serious harm to their properties and themselves. Mill exempts the young children or those in the so called backward states of society from this principle, as they are incompetent of self government. Despotism, according to Mill is an acceptable form of government for societies that are considered to be “backward”, so long as the tyrant sees the best interests of the people.
On Liberty entails an impassioned argument of free speech. Mill contends that free speech is an essential condition for logical and social development. He argues that permitting people to speak of false opinions is due to two bases. First is that individuals are more probable to disregard false beliefs if they are absorbed in a wide open discussion of ideas. Second, by pushing other people to re-evaluate and reiterate their principles and beliefs in the course of debate, these convictions are kept from waning into plain view.

His belief and view on liberty was greatly influenced by Josiah Warren and Joseph Priestley. Individuals are sensible enough to come up with decisions about their good being and opt any religion that they wanted to. Government is said to only interfere in protection of the society. Mill enlightens, “The sole end for which mankind is 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 sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign” (Mill, 1862).

John Stuart Mill is also an influential and strong advocate of the freedom of speech, he opposed censorship. In his own words, Mill said that "I choose, by preference the cases which are least favorable to me - In which the argument against freedom of opinion, both on truth and that of utility, is considered the strongest. Let the opinions impugned be the belief of God and in a future state, or any of the commonly received doctrines of morality... But I must be permitted to observe that it is not the feeling sure of a doctrine (be it what it may) which I call an assumption of infallibility” (Mill, 1859).

For Mill, it is not simply enough to have an unexamined belief or idea that happens to be correct or exact. One must comprehend truly why the belief at hand is the true or right one. Liberalism takes many forms. The true essence of it is the toleration of diverse principles and beliefs and of distinct ideas as to what makes up a good life.