Concept of Liberty and How Has Freedom Changed Over Time

Categories: FreedomLiberty

When it comes to Mill, we see that he defended freedom of thoughts of various ground. First, he stated that us as human beings, we should accept the fact that no one can claim soundness of knowledge into ultimate truth. For such reasons, we ought to value and highly defend liberty of thoughts as well as arguments. Secondly, Mill argued that sometimes, truth concerning things exists as partly truth as it may be held by different people and through other controversies, the truth can end up being a great unified truth of the whole.

“On Liberty’ describes political liberty as one that limit that ought to be put forward on the society’s power over a person. Millie states that the definition of liberty has changed over a period of time starting with the earlier times of Greece and Rome and then to England. He states that the change is as a result of the role of leaders who mainly came to serve the people.

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According to Mill, liberty can be divided into three different categories which are; liberty of thoughts as well as opinions, the freedom to plan our own lives, and finally the liberty to join other individuals with the right mind for a common purpose that is not meant to hurt other people. In his book, Mill discards the idea concerning the social contract whereby people agrees to be part of the society where in this case, the society is the tyrant which seeks to inflict it will as well as values on other individuals.

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Mill responds to the question of whether an individual or other individuals are in a definite position of curtailing other individuals’ freedom in order to express a divergent point. He responds to this question by mainly such activity is generally illegitimate regardless of how correct or incorrect the specific individual’s point may be. According to Mill a viewpoint’s popularity does not at any point makes it correct and this is mainly the reason as to why we ought to permit the freedom of view.

Mill states that opposition is very crucial as it assists in preserving the truth as there is a high possibility of hiding the truth in source of prejudice and dead dogma. He describes the dissent of truth as individuals’ freedom that mainly holds as well as articulating the unpopular views. On whether people who hold unpopular truth views should be forced to act on them without necessarily facing a legal penalty, Mill argues that since actions are not as free compared to ideas or viewpoint, law ought to be considered in order to limit actions that would end up hurting others or being a nuisance. He explains that human beings are very imperfect and the end up experimenting different ways of living. Nonetheless, he agrees that individual liberty ought to be expressed for the sake of achieving social as well as personal progress. When it comes to whether a society is allowed to limit the individual’s liberty, Mill reject the concept stating that people should accept to be part of the society but accepts the fact that society has the ability of offering certain forms of protect at the instance where it ask for certain forms of obligations. Nonetheless, he states that even if the society offers protection, people ought to behave in a certain way and each member in the society should be ready to defend and protect the society as well as all its members from harm. He believes that the society must be given power to limit intentions that are meant to harm others.

The two have differed as well as agreed on various concepts concerning freedom and liberty. Some of the similarities of their concepts include; first, the two philosophers’ work is mainly on man’s freedom and liberty. They both believe that man deserves freedom and liberty even if Locke believes in this point more than Mill. Both their concepts have been criticized, rejected and accepted but the best thing is that they are still used even today. They have really assisted in various questions concerning freedom and liberty. The two seems to have several differences concerning the concept of freedom and liberty. First, while Locke believes that the government is formed by the majority decision to protect the freedom and liberty of individuals whereby it can be dissolved suppose it fails to accomplish its purpose, Mill believes that majority only denies liberty to individuals. This leads to their disagreement concerning the distribution of power where Locke believes that majority of the community has the final say something that has majorly been rejected by Mill who states that majority opinion may not in most cases be the right opinion. As Locke believes that individuals should surrender their rights in order of forming the majority something he refers to as the social contract, Mill rejects it by stating that majority is the most dangerous tyranny. At this point, we can conclude that while Lock is defending the principle concerning the majority rule, Mill is pointing out the danger that comes along with the tyranny of majority. The other point in which the two philosophers differ concerns limitation of the government. 

Works cited

  1. Bartleby. (n.d.). John Stuart Mill: On Liberty. Retrieved from
  2. Brink, D. O. (2007). Mill's Progressive Principles. Oxford University Press.
  3. Cohen, G. A. (1995). Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality. Cambridge University Press.
  4. Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and Freedom. University of Chicago Press.
  5. Locke, J. (2019). Second Treatise of Government. Cambridge University Press.
  6. Mill, J. S. (1859). On Liberty. John W. Parker and Son.
  7. Mill, J. S. (1861). Utilitarianism. Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer.
  8. Okin, S. M. (1979). Women in Western Political Thought. Princeton University Press.
  9. Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press.
  10. Sen, A. (1982). Choice, Welfare and Measurement. Harvard University Press.
Updated: Feb 17, 2024
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Concept of Liberty and How Has Freedom Changed Over Time. (2024, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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