Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mill and Liberty

Mill and Liberty: A well-known political philosopher of nineteenth century Great Britain, John Stuart Mill published a comprehensive essay entitled On Liberty in 1859. For the most part, Mill claimed that righteous governments must be heavily rooted in the principles of Liberalism. Mill believed that genuine governments could only be enacted at the consent of the governed. And it would be with a republican constitution that the true ideas of Liberty could be espoused. He was also a staunch advocate of natural rights in which man was entitled to certain inalienable rights insofar as they were necessary to keep him free from governmental constraints. Another concept worth noting in Mill's essay is the idea of harm. He endorsed the notion that man had a natural right to act in any manner fitting to his character so long as he did not inflict harm upon others. This 'harm principle' as it came to be known stemmed greatly from Mill's belief in Utilitarianism. That is, man should always act in a way such that his actions produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Friedrich Nietzsche would later label Mill a 'hedonist' for his espousal of Utilitarian ideals.

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