• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain Mills understanding of liberty and outline three arguments that support his concept of negative freedom.

Extracts from this document...


Explain Mill?s understanding of liberty and outline three arguments that support his concept of negative freedom. (15 marks) In chapter two of ?On Liberty? Mill presents the reader with a negative concept of liberty, meaning the individual should be free to retain their opinions from both the government and the ?tyranny of the majority. Mill also presents three arguments to support his concept of negative freedom: the harm principle, to censor an opinion may deprive us of the truth or part of the truth, without free debate and finally our true beliefs will become prejudices or ?dead dogmas?. Mill?s understanding of liberty is undoubtedly that of a negative sense of liberty (in accordance with Berlin?s types of liberty). Mill believes that the government may use it?s powers to enforce the views of the majority and seek to prohibit the contrasting opinions of a minority. Therefore Mill argues that if unpopular opinions of the minority are routinely suppressed than it will have a negative effect on the state of society as a whole, ?it is robbing the human race? of its eudaimon opportunity to flourish. ...read more.


Furthermore, Mill believes in a state which does not intrude upon an individual?s life as contrary to this it may harm an individual?s liberty. Mill states: ?the individual ought to be free from all forms of coercion if his action does not harm others?, which further reiterates his stance that as long as an individual does not harm another?s liberty, then their own personal liberty should not be harmed. An example of negative liberty is: one man should not hit another man as this is in direct violation of his freedom from harm, or the state should not allow laws such as SOPA because it intrudes upon the individual?s personal liberty. Mill?s second argument to support his negative concept of liberty is that censoring an opinion may deprive us of the truth.Throughout history, the majority has suppressed the minority and consequently denied society of the truth: for example Galileo was suppressed by the church, despite his argument being true. In relation to this point, Mill wrote ?To refuse a hearing to an opinion because they are sure that it is false is to assume that their ...read more.


The problem with ?dead dogmas? is that they may produce negative results and counteract any form of eudaimon human flourishing. Mill believes that because of this idea, negative liberties are essential to stop any form of ?dead dogma? being formed, if an individual is able to argue their opinion than there will be change within society which will be able to maximise the greatest happiness to the greatest number. In conclusion Mill produces to the reader a firm defence of negative liberty, Mill is wary of power to a small minority or the majority and therefore believes that an individual should be free from such possible intrusions. Mill presents the harm principle, explains how censoring an opinion may deprive us of the truth and how ?dead dogmas? to illustrate his concept of negative liberty. With regards to Mill explaining how censoring an opinion may deprive us of the truth, and how ?dead dogmas? come to prominence in society, history illustrates both of these ideas to be true. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. What are Mill’s four main arguments in defence of freedom of speech?

    If one looks to the example of Newtonian physics one can see that these were held with certainty for hundreds of years, but were not held to be complete and infallible and so when Einstein presented his new concepts to the scientific community they were critically examined and the sum of human knowledge increased.

  2. Nietzsche and Mill on Conventional Morality

    In this chapter Nietzsche argues that all philosophy to date has simply been a reflection of its authors pre-held beliefs, and not completely rational and logical as it would be had that we should believe. Instead they are nothing more than a deep psychoanalysis on the part of their authors

  1. Our freedom to make ethical choices is an illusion Discuss

    According to Honderich, there is no room for moral blame and punishment for each action is an effect and there is no room for free will. In contrast libertarianism would say the complete opposite; the idea of freedom is also seen as a goal of moral action.

  2. Compare and contrast arguments for and against belief in life after death.

    Since I can be without my body, it follows, says Swinburne, that I am not my body. Through Descartes' and Swinburne's arguments it becomes entirely possible to attack the premise of a dualistic interpretation of life after death by attacking the premise of dualism itself.

  1. Compare, contrast and evaluate Plato and Mill on the relationship between individual and society

    The people are ignorant and do not possess the knowledge that they deserve. The prisoners are bound and only have a view of the wall in front of them, there is a fire behind them, between them and the wall is nothing.

  2. What is the most telling objection to Mill's Greatest Happiness Principle?

    Mill put far greater stress on the variety of pleasures and distinguished between their respective values. Mill argues human beings, while experiencing 'lower' pleasures in common with animals are capable of certain other higher pleasures-those of intellect-which are beyond the reach of all other conscious beings.

  1. What are the limitations on our personal liberty? Are all of them justified?

    It should be assumed that the tool that I will use to judge the justifiability of certain laws will be J. S. Mill's 'harm principle', which states that an individual should have total personal liberty in those areas of their lives that may directly harm only themselves.

  2. Compare and Contrast the Philisophical Contributions of Nietzsche and Mill to our understanding of ...

    - The aim being to set limits to the power of the tyrant. With this came a time where, as human affairs progressed, what was wanted was that rulers should be identified with the people, and that their interests should be the interests of the whole nation.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work