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By John Stuart Mill, Professor David Bromwich, Professor George Kateb

When you consider that its first ebook in 1859, few works of political philosophy have provoked such non-stop controversy as John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty", a passionate argument on behalf of freedom of self-expression. This vintage paintings is now to be had during this quantity which additionally contains essays via students in more than a few fields. The textual content starts off with a biographical essay by way of David Bromwich and an interpretative essay by way of George Kateb. Then Jean Bethke Elshtain, Owen Fiss, pass judgement on Richard A. Posner and Jeremy Waldron current commentaries at the pertinence of Mill's pondering to early twenty first century debates. They talk about, for instance, the makes use of of authority and culture, the moving criminal barriers of loose speech and unfastened motion, the relation of non-public liberty to marketplace individualism, and the strain among the perfect to stay as one pleases and the perfect to criticize anyone's lifestyle.

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Where quotations run two sentences or longer, volume and page numbers are inserted parenthetically in the text. 2. Quoted in Elie Halévy, The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism (Boston, 1955), pp. 289–90. 3. Quoted in Michael St. John Packe, The Life of John Stuart Mill (London, 1954), p. 134. 4. , p. 317. 5. A. V. Dicey, Law and Public Opinion in England During the Nineteenth Century (London, 1952), p. 185. 6. Quoted in Stefan Collini, Public Moralists (Oxford, 1991), p. 131. 7. Frederic Harrison, Tennyson, Ruskin, Mill, and other Literary Estimates (London, 1899), pp.

To say it again, Mill believes in the correctness of his tactical arguments, even if they are not the arguments he cherishes the most and would most prefer to use. Indeed, he perhaps wishes that he did not have to argue for liberty at all. Arguing is best when the liberty to argue can be taken for granted. But Mill will argue for liberty on grounds of truth. His tactical arguments for liberty of thought and discussion as instrumental to truth actually turn out to be the scene of his greatest eloquence, even though the reasons for liberty that are closest to Mill’s heart are not instrumental but rather reasons of human dignity, the individuality of speakers and auditors, writers and readers.

Of course, we may disagree with Mill’s own ranking, if we can determine it. That is all to the good: such disagreement is, for Mill, the stuff of moral reasoning. In any case, a preliminary way of sorting the variety of considerations and arguments in defense of liberty is to say that when Mill is confronting skepticism and hostility, he is eloquent and truthful, but not speaking in all respects as he would have most liked. Even when he is addressing his fellow utilitarians, although he is certainly speaking as a utilitarian, he has still not arrived at the level which I believe means the most to him, the defense of liberty as essential to individuality, which means as essential to human dignity.

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