J. S. Mill: 'On Liberty' and Other Writings - John Stuart Mill, Stefan Collini, Raymond Geuss

synopsis: "Liberty is good." -JSM


So John Stuart Mill likes freedom. In all forms. He argues eloquently for absolute freedom of speech and of the press predominately, with other freedoms being important, too.


I always thought of "On Liberty" as a philosophical underpinning of the revolutionary era (American, French, whatever), but it turns out Mill wrote this in the 1850s. ..and topically, he's anti-slavery, which is more relieving than anything.


Anyways, Mill argues that truth and good ideas are strengthened in the presence of their opposites. Without junk science, real science is indistinguishable from junk... I accept that argument, but... wait... so, does anyone actually disagree with it? I can't think of any solid argument against it, which means....oh, I am so confused now. Could someone PLEASE disagree with Mr. Mill and therefore prove him right? Otherwise, I'm left awfully confused about the whole matter.


JSM also brings up a really interesting argument about what people should be allowed/free to do vs. what they should do. He says (probably more eloquently than I do) that society has a right to its norms and to use its exertions to enforce those norms. Therefore, someone who is doing something that doesn't harm anyone else (i.e. spiraling downward in an alcoholic stupor, painting their house purple, being Miley Cyrus, whatever) should be ALLOWED (legally) to do so, but it's society's role (and right) to shun them and offer their collective opinion on the matter. Interesting.


...anyway, I'm now just a bit smarter for having read this, right?