ADM “Since people cannot be perfect beings, one who

ADM 4150 Modernity and Idea of Freedom

Weekly Questions

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Week #4 John Stuart Mill

The Question: According to
Mill, why and how should be public opinion’s control over individual
independence be limited? What is the importance of self-protection in this context?

Mill considers freedom as the driving force
for society and as an engine for the social revolution. According to Mill, freedom can be described
as a free form of seeking one’s own well-being on his own as long as he does
not deprive others of their happiness or attempt to prevent their efforts to
attain happiness. Moreover, the freedom of every
individual must be decisive in his own living space, unless he enters the
living spaces of others. Mill’s main
idea in this regard is; each unit is someone who has its own ideas and set out
its own life plan, rather than being the people who make the trumpet of others’
ideas and keep the lives according to the conditions imposed on us, as they
usually do. Mill supports diversity in this
sense, though not for a specific individual purpose. Although the Mill seems to approve diversity
in society just because “difference is good”, it is the main reason
why it gives importance to it, a society that each individual maintains his own
life according to his own abilities. The argument
Mill uses here suggests the argument he has developed about freedom of
expression. This is how much difference and
opposition between individuals’ lifestyles can lead to so much progress towards
better ways of life. “Since
people cannot be perfect beings, one who acknowledges that the emergence of
different ideas is a good thing, that different lifestyles do not harm each
other -to recognize the need for freedom to develop itself, and that each of
the different lifestyles is respectable.” (J.S.Mill, 2016)

The Mill first looks at the rights of the
individual, not the task of collecting in terms of the state. The freedom of
the person can only be restricted in order not to harm others; they can never
be restricted “for their own good”. Everyone has the right to decide
what is good and right. One is the sole ruler of his own head and body. In this
context, Mill supports passion and freedom of thought and expression. The
ability to speak and write like people wish is a necessary condition for
intellectual and social development. Mill looks
suspiciously at all claims of infallibility. No one can impose one’s absolute
truth on anyone else. If you are blocking the defense of one’s views, then you
are assuming you are not mistaken. If you are doing this by accusing the other
person of irreligion or immorality, a more deadly situation for freedom cannot
be conceived. Mill makes a clear distinction
between “about themselves” actions that individuals will use for
absolute freedom and “others” that can restrict or harm the freedom
of others. Mill does not accept any
restrictions on the individual, even if they are designed to prevent him or her
from causing physical or moral harm to him. In
this context, it is important to pay attention to the following warnings on the
subject of “individual freedom”; “There is a growing tendency in
all parts of the world to broaden the powers of society over the individual, as
much as necessary, through public eye and even laws. According to the fact that
the changes seen in all countries are increasingly aimed at strengthening the
society and reducing the authority of the individual in the real sense, the
attack on the field of individual freedom will not come on its own, but on the
contrary, it will become increasingly scary.” (J.S.Mill, 2016).

Mill defines freedom of expression as the
most basic necessity of social progress and development; because, in a society
where freedom of expression does not exist, the chances of finding possible
mistakes are limited. Different ideas arise out of necessity in a society. In
communities where freedom of expression is represented without problems, the
transfer of knowledge and thought to an individual without regarding any
censorship or limitation is a crucial factor in social reconciliation. In the
societies in which the freedom of expression is defined in essence, it is
faster to detect mistakes in the system and to find solutions.

 The belief in the superior importance of the
individual has naturally devoted itself to individual freedom. Individual
liberty for liberals, where both freedom and liberty can be used
interchangeably, is a superior political value, and is, in many respects, a
unifying element in liberal ideology. (Heywood, 2016). Freedom is also a source of institutional
structures such as tolerance, private life, and constitutionalism, and the rule
of law. It is possible to say that liberalism is essentially a theory of
liberty. Liberal political philosophy
makes individual freedoms a high moral principle which must be justified and
guided by all political practices; so it is often referred to as individualist.
Because the political institutions and their obligations to the citizens are at
scarcity that citizens are aiming to provide their freedom. The liberals like
Mill have opened an interpretive door that will enable the concepts of social
justice and the welfare state to enable them to reach a level that would enable
the individual to realize their potential by reducing the effects of
socio-economic inequalities.