John Mill is a British philosopher, has been called the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the 19th century (John Mill Biography). John Mill published his on liberty book in 1859, In “On Liberty” book by John Mill he discussed and he debated the concept of personal liberty, and the limitation of the discussion (On Liberty book, pg iii, iv, and the cover page). In this book John Mills discussed very important points which are The Struggle between Liberty and Authority, Tyranny of the Majority, Self-Regarding Actions and Autonomy, The Veracity of Public Opinion, Religion and Liberty, and Coercion.
Those points are related to the debate video which we saw in class “The Agenda: Mark Steyn” which I will explain each one of them and say how it is related to the case of the video we saw (the debate). Fristly The struggle between liberty and authority, as the book said “it is the most conspicuous feature in the portions of history with which we are earliest familiar; but in old times this contest was between subjects, or some classes of subjects, and the government” (On Liberty book: chapter 1, pg 1). Which means that in the old times, liberty was used as a safeguard against the tyranny because of their rulers which were talented with power to put the rights of their citizenry. Over the time, the citizens began to ask for a limit to be placed on the power of the government to obtain their liberty Which helped them after by obtain the right which are safe against the tyranny, and also to achieve the safeguard of community in the form of people will guard against the disadvantage of the power of the tyranny.
And then the government said that the majority opinion will be the discussed so according to that the citizens will never feel as what they thought the best interests are not being served. Secondly Tyranny of the Majority, when John Mills said that he meant that “it is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard” (On Liberty book: chapter 1, pg 4). Mill used these phase during the discussion of the democracy and the limitation of the discussion which can be made by the majority.
Mill also said that this is not true because the democracies enable a tyranny of the majority where public opinion runs over the voices of the minority groups and pays their and opinions. Mill thinks that tyrannies are dangerous, and requires amount that society can impose itself on an individual while still maintaining personal liberty. Thirdly Self-Regarding Actions and Autonomy, according to Mill, he said that “we have a right, also in various ways, to act upon our unfavorable opinion of any one, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours” (On Liberty book: chapter 4, pg 65).
That sentence also means that the person whose actions only affect himself is not going to get punished for his mistake as well as it is not also the society’s right to protect a person from himself. The only punishment that can result from a self-regarding action is the weight of the people in the public opinions and the outcome of the actual action itself. (On Liberty book: chapter 4, pg 64-65-66).
Fourthly The Veracity of Public Opinion, Mill talked about that a lot in chapter two in his book, he said that “the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by it’s collision with error” (On Liberty: chapter 2, pg 14).
Mill asserts that The government is much more dangerous when they follow on unfaithful and uncertain public opinions. However, public opinion is the most popular passion of humanity, but forming this opinion requires the silencing of most of the voices because the minority opinions is very hurtful even if their doesn’t know their opinions are wrong or right. If a silenced opinion is right, that means that the people in public still doesn’t know the truth. Well as if the minority opinion is wrong, it leads to “the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth. (On Liberty book: chapter 2, pg 14).
Mill also said that “the usefulness of an opinion is itself matter of opinion: as disputable, as open to discussion and requiring discussion as much, as the opinion itself….. there can be no fair discussion of the question of usefulness, when an argument so vital may be employed on one side, but not on the other. And in point of fact, when law or public feeling does not permit the truth of an opinion to be disputed, they are just as little tolerant of a denial of its usefulness.
The utmost they allow is an extenuation of its absolute necessity or of the positive guilt of rejecting it (On Liberty book: chapter 2, pg 19). As we took in class and the professor gave us an example of that when he said that if someone one going crazy and want to kill her/himself, and they asked someone else if he have a knife in the case the person can’t say the truth wish is yes I have a knife because he know that the other person will kill her/himself if he gave the knife to her/him.
So to know the truth good but some times you can’t say the truth it depends on the situation which you are in. Fivethly Religion and Liberty, Mills in on liberty book throught many chapters said that the religion supporters resort to show the people whose are less religious as having a less reliable ideas in society. Mill break this theory and he says that the lack of religious should not play any role in the ability of a person him/herself to make an opinion which all the society aware of and they are know much about it and thry know what is best for the society and the truth of matters.
Mill also talked about non religious people and their morals as proof that religious affiliation does not need or use any trust eligibility, but the non religious people still have to strike a balance between religion, faith and their own personal morality as Mill said that “ let us assume them to be true, and examine into the worth of the manner in which they are likely to be held, when their truth is not freely and openly canvassed….. it will be held as a dead dogm, not a living truth” (On Liberty book: chapter 2, pg 29).
Mills also said that “it would be equally unjust to him and false to truth, to deny, that no one plea which can be urged for punishing anti-christian teaching, was wanting to Marcus Aurelius for punishing as he did, the propagation of christianity. No christians more firmily believes that Atheism is false, and tends to the dissolution of society, than Marcus Aurelius believed the same thing of christianity; he who, of all men then living, might have been thought the most capable of appreciating it” (On Liberty book: chapter 2, pg 22) which means that Mills refering to Marcus Aurelius who was a good man, then he judged christianity.
Lastly Coercion, Accourding to the On Liberty book Mill proposed the limitations on the personal freedom, so he assert that “No one pretends that actions should be as free as opinions” (On Liberty book: chapter 3, page 46), Mill think that the personal freedom is a going to be lack of the respects of the society when it gives the the majority of people often sees for nor reason why everyone should not be excited and happy with their decisions. Mill also was against coercion in all cases, except when the people actions are harming others.
He thinks that it is a abuse of liberty when coercion is used to encourage the people to stop an action that only affects him/ herself. Mill also believes that the people in public should be in onehand, have the duty to becarful of each other and to be aware about everything and the dangerous person and coerce one another to avoid the dangerous person as he said “Acts of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, maybe, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled by the unfavorable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind.
The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. But if he refrains from molesting others in what concerns them, and merely acts according to his own inclination and judgment in things which concern himself, the same reasons which show that opinion should be free, prove also that he should be allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at his own cost” (On Liberty book: chapter 3, pg 46) Mark Steyn in his book “America Alone” used all the points which I explained each point, but now I will write how each point realated to the debate.
Firstly Mark Steyn used the Coercion point which is harming the Muslim people by the words he said in his book as he said that Islam and muslim people are terrorists because their ethnic ties with their home countries were severed. Their young feel rejected by their host countries, deprived of opportunities by the prevalence of employment discrimination (Review of America Alone by Mark Steyn).
He also harm them when he said that Islam is weak and unsure religion, but actually that is not true because Islam religion is strong from so many years and muslim people are everywhere around the world, they are sepreding there religion around the whole world, so Mark used the Religion and Liberty point and he also used the point of the struggle between liberty and authority.
As in the debate we watched in class he was so agresive and nervous when he came to the point which is he facing some of the muslim people whose get harmed by his words, even thou he wasn’t sure about what he wrote in his book about Islam and he only wrote the book from only his point of view, which is wrong. Mills argued that in his on liberty book as he said that we should not judge anyone about their religion and we he also put the limitation of discussion because people not harm each other.
Throught my six points I explained what is Mill’s prespective which he showed to us thought his on liberty book, and I also compared it at the end to the debate we saw in class about the America Alone book by Mark Steyn who was so agresive and harmful to the Islam religion and muslim people and that was only from his own prespective.
I agree with Mills because everyone should has the limit of discussion so we would not harm or hurt someone else’s feeling and we should also respect the society, culture, and religion because it’s different from country to another so we can’t judge or harm anyone because of our perspective which we don’t know if it’s right or wrong.