Essay On Liberty By J. S. Mill

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In J.S. Mill’s book On Liberty in chapter four, “Of the Limits to the Authority of Society over the Individual”, Mill focuses on how each member of society should not harm others and how everyone is obligated to keep society safe by maintaining a balance. However, as Mill discusses in this chapter, society then has the right to punish these members who harm society, if the level of harm is high, the law will be used and if the harm level is lower then the public can scrutinize that person but the law will not step in. Mill has various ideas that support his argument but he also considered a few objections to his argument as well. In chapter four of On Liberty by J.S. Mill, Mill argues that there needs to be a strong division between an individuals rights and the society’s ability to punish, he believes that the “harm principle” will hold the individuals accountable for their actions, preventing harm to others, however there are also flaws in Mill’s argument which will all be discussed in this essay.

Mill makes a claim in his book, On Liberty saying, “ The inconveniences which are strictly inseparable from the unfavorable judgment of others, are the only ones to which a person should ever be subjected for that portion of his conduct which concerns his own good, but which does not affect the interests of others in their relation with him. Acts injurious to others require a totally different treatment.” (Page 72, Mill) This quote, sums up his harm principle, which is that in society each individual cannot violate others rights or harm them in anyway, however if it only affects him or herself, society cannot punish the individual. Mill is discussed how society will judge even if the person is only doing harm to him or herself and wi...

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...ered enough, which is a huge objection to Mill’s argument.

In conclusion, On Liberty, chapter four by J.S. Mill focuses on how each member of society should not harm others and how everyone is obligated to keep society safe maintaining a balance. In this chapter Mill reviews his ideas surrounding the “harm principle” and holding individuals accountable for their actions to others. He also argues in this chapter that society has the right to punish individuals who harm other members in society. On Liberty, chapter four by J.S. Mill argues that there has to be a division between an individuals rights and the society’s ability to punish, Mill also argues that his “harm principle” would hold the individuals accountable for their actions, which would prevent harm to society, however there were also flaws in Mill’s argument and exceptions need to be added to his theory.
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