The introduction of the book is crucial to understanding Mill’s arguments and the status of his beliefs. It states the basic structure of his argument and his own key deductions. Mill steps back and defines his idea of civilization. He sees it as a struggle with individual people and what creates and defines our society. Which of the two deserves or should have the right to control someone’s actions? This made Mill’s standing on society much clearer and his beliefs on who should really have the power is identified through it. He says that, currently, we are leaning too much towards society being our chosen leader. Mill obviously believes we should be striving to have our foundation built on individuality instead.
His reasons for believing that both communal opinions and laws currently have much more power over the actions and thoughts of an individual than an individual has over himself are much more reasonable now. He mentions that the only time the government or society should be given power to act against someone is if it would cause harm to someone else. Curiously enough, he does not believe that causing harm to yourself is an acceptable reason for society to get involved. However it makes no difference if an individual does it purposely or accidental, if it would cause harm to another person the gov...
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...at an individual who believes in prejudice could bring up that he believes that benefits of liberty and free opinion would allow a consequence that is outwardly evil? I would like to know how Mill would fight this argument against freedom of opinion especially because in the act of challenging it he believes his ideas have the opportunity to grow by questioning.
Now look at the questions at the beginning about the sorority girls parading down the sidewalk. They are causing self harm by freezing their bones however are they causing harm to anyone else? Well, that would depend on your definition of harm, something Mill never fully addresses creating the big point to argue when answering the question of when authority should step in. This debate has caused the two opposing sides in politics in democracy that we know today, Democrats and Republicans.
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