"On liberty" by John Stuart Mill

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateB, November 1996

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What does John Stuart Mill think liberty is? That is a question that which I hope I can answer in the following essay.

One of the main purposes of his essay is to make the reader think about how extreme limits and laws can be for the individual to still have his or her deserving rights. There has always been a struggle between freedom and power (laws). The stricter the system of laws, the less freedom we have. When you think about it, every law that is passed is just another freedom that we lose. Some people are against just about every law because of this. Mill says that some' prefer to bear almost any amount of evil rather than add one to the departments of human interests amenable to government control.'(1) In a way Mill is asking the reader if laws help enforce liberty or do if they just destroy it little by little.

Mill says 'By liberty was meant protection against the tyranny of the political rulers.'(2) But who is to decide if a ruler is enforcing the liberty of every individual. It was given that the ruler should be limited to what rules he could enforce over his people. That is one way of defining liberty. Those freedoms that which can not be taken away. But what about those that should be given to you?

Mill also talks about how, even in a democratic system of government, not everyone is represented. Thus, those people do not get what they feel is free to do . Mill states that only those who are 'the most numerous or the most active part of the people'(3) get to decide what is meant by liberty and what is against their laws. Those who don't even agree with the law still have...