To Follow Or Not To Follow Customs

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To Follow or Not to Follow Customs In Chapter three of On Liberty, John Stuart Mill defends the liberty of the individual. Mill believes we should be free to form and act upon our opinions, “without molestation or interference from others” (pg.57). Mill argues that liberty and individuality are essential to individual and social progress. However, according to Mill, customs prevent individuals from forming their own opinions and acting on their own beliefs. He wants individuals to experiment different ways of living by exploring and developing their own character and personality in order to be original and creative. I agree with what Mill says about individual and social progress, but he over generalizes about the impact of custom on the individual. We actually use customs as foundations in developing and creating new ideas and perspectives. In brief, customs can help us build originality and creativity. Mill believes customs hinder individual liberty. He thinks customs are not conductive to good moral development, individual creativity, or decision-making skills. Mill clearly states “to conform to custom…does not educate or develop in him any of the qualities…of a distinct…human being” (pg. 60). Words like “distinct” help us understand what Mill is trying to get at. He is opposed to customs because he believes that if a person practices customs, they will not develop their own unique personality. He also uses words like “educate or develop” to show that he values the individuals education, development, and their distinct qualities. I agree with Mill’s position on the need for individual development and education, because it is important for us to make our own decisions to develop according to our own needs and not be dependent or reliant on other people. Mill wants us to make our own choices. He thinks we should not rely on other people or customs but on

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