John Stuart Mill’s Ideal of Freedom and Conception of Freedom

John Stuart Mill’s Ideal of Freedom and Conception of Freedom

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

According to Mill (he was one of them), geniuses need more freedom than the rest of us to thrive.

They rarely conform to societal expectations of how they should behave and often appear eccentric. If you hinder their development, then we all lose because they are unable to contribute to society as they can. Therefore, if you want to achieve the greatest possible happiness, let people direct their lives as they wish; provided, of course, that his actions do not harm other people. If you find what they are doing offensive, that is not a valid reason to interfere in their lives. Mill made this point very clear: Offense should not be confused with harm.

Mill’s approach has some disturbing consequences. Let’s say there is a man who has no family and decides to have two bottles of vodka every night. It’s not hard to see that drinking that much is going to kill him. Should the law intervene and stop it? Mill says “no”, not unless it hurts someone else. You can argue with him, you can tell him he screwed himself up. However, no one should force him to change his chosen path, or the state should try to prevent him from ruining his life by drinking. This is his free choice. If she cared for a child, it would not have been her free choice; but he should be able to do what he wants because there is no one dependent on him.

Just as we are free to decide how to live, Mill felt that we should be free to think and speak as we please. Open discussions were very helpful to society because they forced people to think about what they believed in. If you don’t open up your views to the challenge of people with opposing views, you’ll probably end up accepting them as “dead dogmas,” prejudices that you can’t really defend. He defended freedom of expression, provided it did not reach the point of inciting violence. A journalist should have had the freedom to write that “corn merchants are starving the poor”. However, if he stood on the steps of a corn merchant’s house and waved a banner with the same words in front of an angry crowd, then it would have been an incitement to violence, so it should have been banned under Mill’s Harm principle. Not many people agreed with Mill. Some felt that Mill’s approach to freedom placed too much emphasis on how individuals felt about their own lives (for example, it is far more individualistic than Rousseau’s concept of freedom). Some people around him claimed that women were naturally inferior to men. Mill asked how they could know when women are often prevented from reaching their full potential: They were kept out of higher education and many professions. Mill wanted more equality between the sexes. He argued that marriage should be a friendship between equals. Such was his marriage to a widowed wife, Harriet Taylor. This marriage, which he made at a later age, brought great happiness to both of them. The two were close friends (perhaps lovers) while Harriet’s first husband was alive, but Mill had to wait until 1851 to become her second wife.

Mill’s revisions in utilitarian philosophy have appeared at every stage of his thinking about individual freedom.

In his On Liberty, his main concern is the effects of democratization and the changing role of freedom as a political ideal (Iain 2004: 451). In order to understand Mill’s ideal of freedom, the term “freedom” needs to be emphasized. The term “autonomy”, which means self-management in English, is met as “independence” in Turkish. Again, looking at the distinction between “freedom” and “liberty” in English, “freedom” means that there is no external condition, no arbitrary restriction, and “freedom” is related to external conditions that are not under the control of individuals. In addition, by “freedom” is understood an internal condition called independence, in which the individual has the power to control himself or to control his reactions and is responsible. Individuals may be unaware of their freedom or even give up. But freedom as an internal state is always present in individuals and can be put into practice at any time.

Freedom is not something that can be controlled from the outside (Capaldi 2011: 261). Being independent means the freedom to choose what kind of person one wants to be, accepting that a free person cannot and will not act contrary to this freedom, and taking responsibility for one’s own actions. The main argument defended when it comes to freedom is the existence of freedom or independence. In this case, freedom is good as long as it allows people to realize and practice their freedom (Capaldi 2011: 261-262). That is, freedom is not an end in itself.