Mill’s Defense of Free Speech

Mill has many words of wisdom throughout this textbook, many of his thoughts I agree upon. One, in particular, is his focus on freedom of speech. He is very inspiring and has many thoughts throughout his piece that exclaims the positives of freedom of speech, which an individual in society will genuinely desire upon.

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According to J.S. Mill, we see that freedom means: the freedom of thought, religion, speech, the freedom of tastes, and the freedom to plan the life in own way, and the freedom of assembly. Thus, Mills ideal is possible freedom of every person for the whole society prosperity. Mill even stated that the state should take care of their own people and dont try to increase values for citizens with the purpose of making them obedient instruments of own projects implementation. Mill defends the right of individuals to live as he pleases, as long as they are not in harms way. According to Mill, we see that each of us is self-sufficient concerning own health, as bodily, mental and spiritual. Social growth is the result of all the various individual initiatives. Everyones freedom finds its limits in the freedom of another. An individual shall not infringe upon the interests of others or a particular group interests, which by law or acquiescence should read as legal. He was forced to accept their responsibilities and the necessary sacrifices for the protection of society and its members from any sabotage and unrest.
Freedom in Mills mind is the public good. A free person is more productive than a not free person and has a better chance of happiness and this is advocated by Mill. Now we have a reason to suspect that the freedom is the condition for the further evolution of the individual and, more importantly, the collectivity development. Survival of the human species depends on how a human can think, and on his ability to modify the form of collective existence.

Mill states If all mankind minus one were of the contrary opinion and only one person than he, if he had the power would be justified in silencing mankind. (Cahn, Steven M. Political Philosophy: the Essential Texts. Oxford University Press, 2015, Page 755.) Mill is expressing that yes, people can certainly be wrong, and indeed not everyone will agree with others opinions; however, everyones voice shall be heard. It cannot be overemphasized the importance and necessity of freedom in life. It is our right to exercise our freedom. The freedom of speech in consideration here most especially is needful, useful and should be initialized or underutilized by individuals in recent times. This is one of the bases of civilization. Thinking about the liberty of thought and discussion on the governmental level we see that Mill exercises this thought. Mill does not get tired of stressing the importance for man and society as a whole in the maximum diversity of characters and full freedom of human nature in a myriad of contrasting directions. Freedom does not only protect from the tyranny of power, but it also ensures against such kind of tyranny as the tyranny of prevailing opinion and feeling of general social trends, ideas, and habits. It seems that the freedom limits the penetration of legitimate collective wisdom of individual independence.

Mill considered that in a society the law and public opinion should compel people to perform specific behavioral rules. In this case, the most critical question is about the true essence of these rules. Mill states in his testament We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if it would be an evil still. (Cahn, Steven M. Political Philosophy: the Essential Texts. Oxford University Press, 2015, Page 755.) The opinions we bear always make us who we are. When we see the government as a bad one, it makes us a people who are led by a bad government. An opinion held by a majority or by people in power or even an individual could be erroneous. The other group might hold the very same opinion held by a group of people as correct and correct as a completely false statement and completely incorrect.

The presence of change cannot be overemphasized and does not change as a different generation passes by. It is a faithful saying that a new generation comes, there comes a new way of life, way of thinking and many other improvements or non-improvements in processes. There have been many reformations and changes in the system of governance of any country of the world for that matter, and that begins with the freedom of speech coming from the communities around the world, which is what Mill is trying to prove- Freedom of Speech can genuinely make a difference as well as make a society more diverse. Any government should be open-minded to societys opinions, as well as their religious views because it can up bring a community.

Nevertheless, I still want to stipulate that there still holds some general view on the essential things expected of a government to offer its citizens and this is the freedom of speech. Our points approved is an excellent feature and character worthy of emulation which establishes our opinion as a statement of truth. I will not but also comment on this point as it evokes the feeling and awareness to each of us and most especially the government to allow considerable room for criticism and evaluation of the views and beliefs held. Mill holds the view that our views and opinions, although they are value statements, should have enough safe grounds of defense to it. We should always weigh our statements, opinions, and views in order that they should be worthy enough for anyone to rely on.

The holding of opinion is not just enough but being able to defend it to some degree is the importance of this opinion thereof. Mill statement is No argument, we may suppose can now be needed against remitting a legislature or an executive, not identified in interest with the people, no prescribe opinions to them and determine what doctrines or what arguments they shall be allowed to hear. (Cahn, Steven M. Political Philosophy: the Essential Texts. Oxford University Press, 2015 Page 755.) The freedom of expressing one’s belief is good, but more especially there should also be concomitant knowledge of the opposing belief in order to express the basis of this belief rationally. The greatness you have as a propagator of a particular belief lies in your knowledge of an opposing beliefs facts and knowing and expressing a rational assertion of superiority over the opposing belief. It is political as well as rationally worthy to discuss opinions for the complete exposure of its foundational basis and meaning.

Analyzing Mills position we see that Mill opposed to individual self-restraint, to the restriction of individuals freedom from the societys side, and also he opposed to restrictions on freedom of the individual and society from the states side. It is evident that Mill was well aware that the joint lives of individuals cannot exist without any restrictions of freedom. Mill said that the freedom of one ends where the freedom of another begins. Mill insists that the freedom is the norm, and its limitations are rationally justifiable exceptions or pathology. An individual is entitled to any vices and follies if it will not cause harm to anyone except himself. Moreover, the scope of conduct, harmless to others, in Mills explanations is much extended. If the individuals behavior provokes a moral outrage and aesthetic revulsion at the neighbors, then shrugs Mill, let them leave their feelings with themselves: the freedom of public interest and public good is more important than their feelings.

In the society where other men and women are leading the lives of men and women, there should be the presence of quality and capability in these leaders. According to Mills second claim Let us now pass to the second division of the argument, and diminishing the supposition that any of them to be and examine into the worth of the manner in which they are likely to help when their truth is not freely and openly canvassed. (Cahn, Steven M. Political Philosophy: the Essential Texts. Oxford University Press, 2015, Page 764) It is, of course, worthy and respectable the fact that leaders act, make decisions, enact laws and even enforce punishments on those they believe defaulted the law, there should also be a justifiable explanation for their actions and steps. Adequacy and competency in leadership and politics therefore not only includes actions which of course should be appropriate ones but also should include their ability to communicate their decisions, intention and even their actions to those they lead.

Over more, Mill would appreciate todays society, due to the excessive amount of freedom of speech society has thanks to social media and technology. Mill was very set on freedom of speech, and due to todays technology that is very much possible, especially communicating with our very own president, as well as government officials and so many more important figures. We also communicate amongst each other and share our traditions and beliefs through social media, and Mill will very much appreciate todays society, especially how far we have come as a country, and expressing our thoughts and expressions amongst each other.

J.S. Mills defense of Free Speech was a great deal of interest, education, and increment of knowledge to me. Thus, Mills ideal is possible freedom of every person for the whole society prosperity. Mill even stated that the state should take care of own people and dont try to increase the value of own citizens with the purpose of making them obedient instruments of own projects implementation. Mill defends the right of individuals to live as he pleases. According to Mill, we see that each of us is self-sufficient concerning own health, as bodily, mental and spiritual. Social growth is the result of all the various individual initiatives. Everyones freedom finds its limits in the freedom of another. An individual shall not infringe upon the interests of others or a particular group interests, which by law or acquiescence should read as legal. He was forced to accept their responsibilities and the necessary sacrifices for the protection of society and its members from any sabotage and unrest.

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Mill's Defense Of Free Speech. (2019, May 08). Retrieved October 4, 2022 , from
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