On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

1068 Words5 Pages
The main theme throughout Mill’s essay is all about the individual. Along with the individual are his or her civil and economic liberties. Mill defines liberty as “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual.” According to Mill, individual liberty has a vital role in society. He believed that one can maintain their happiness without any interference from another human being. It is not anyone’s right to take that from another individual. He also believed in a free society which means that any person should be allowed to voice their opinions without bringing harm to oneself or anyone else. Mill lays these ideas out through three different points. A free society can be obtained through liberty of individual thought and opinion, liberty of planning one’s life, and liberty to unite with others for any purpose as long as that purpose does not harm others. These liberties prove the idea that true freedom means the opportunity for one to pursue their own good in their own way. Good eventually comes from any society that abides by these freedoms. In the early years of the world, before constitutions and democracies, one random individual’s opinion did not matter. Most societies were ruled by an absolutist where only the leader’s thoughts and opinions were the ones that were important. Most of the time, the ruler’s opinions were deemed false although nothing ever happened. As these rulers voiced their own opinions, they were also silencing the voices of many others. Mill writes that as an individual, one has the right to have an opinion and to defend that opinion. According to Mill, silencing one’s opinion can severely harm humanity. His initial argument states the silenced opinion could very well be true. The one thing he makes sure to make a point of is that if one believes their opinion is true then they need to
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