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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Mill’s Essay On Liberty

Mill’s Essay On Liberty

(p.257) 13 Mill’s Essay On Liberty
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's arguments in his essay On Liberty. It first considers Mill's early allegiance to utilitarianism as well as his reaction to the rise of democracy before expounding on the question Mill asks himself: on what general principle is the coercive interference of society toward its members to be organized? In particular, it explores what Mill has to say about the notion that we have the right to force other people to live according to our standards, noting that it is coercion that Mill is concerned to circumscribe. It also analyzes how Mill comes to think that utility implies the principle that the only basis of a right to dictate how others behave is self-defense. Finally, it evaluates Mill's views on other issues such as “antagonism of opinions,” bureaucracy, freedom of speech, individuality, and punishment.

Keywords:   coercion, John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, utilitarianism, democracy, liberty, bureaucracy, freedom of speech, individuality, punishment

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