Analysis Of On Liberty By John Stuart Mill - Book Report/Review Example

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The writer of the paper "Analysis Of On Liberty By John Stuart Mill" gives the detailed analysis of Mill's book about the struggle between authority and liberty which describing the tyranny of government, that needs to be controlled by the liberty of the citizens…
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Analysis Of On Liberty By John Stuart Mill
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Download file to see previous pages According to Mill, there is only one legitimate reason for the exercise of power over individuals: “The object of this essay is to assert one very simple principle, which says 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” (13). This is the first mention in “On Liberty” of the so-called harm principle.
The only limiting factor of liberty in Mill's view should be the harm in the form of either physical or moral compulsion. If a person is thus harmed, then his or her sovereignty over self is impaired because sovereignty is exercised either through action or judgment. Children and those who cannot take care of themselves are allowed to be interfered with beyond the harm principle as they may well harm themselves unintentionally; they do not, and cannot, have sovereignty over self.
Furthermore, Mill states that one may accept despotism over "barbarians" if the end result is their betterment. As soon as people are capable of deciding for themselves, they should then be given liberty from authority. To illustrate his point, Mill uses Charlemagne and Akbar the Great as examples of such compassionate dictators who controlled and supposedly helped "barbarians". Referring to the rule of Akbar in India, he allowed that despotic rule could be necessary under certain conditions for the stable government.stable government. He even suggests that, since people must be properly fit if democracy is to function well, a despotic form of government, if well-run with this aim in mind, might prepare its people for the exercise of responsibilities of a free electorate. This point seems to be quite controversial, since "helping the barbarians" could be easily used as a formal excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
Generally speaking, Mill's statement of the harm principle in Chapter I of the essay seems clear, but in fact entails a number of complications. For example, Mill explicitly states that "harms" may include acts of omission as well as acts of commission. Thus, failing to rescue a drowning child counts as a harmful act, as does failing to pay taxes, or failing to appear as a witness in court. All such harmful omissions may be regulated, according to Mill. By contrast, it does not count as harming someone if (without force or fraud) the affected individual consents to assume the risk: thus one may permissibly offer unsafe employment to others, provided there is no ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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