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Mill’s On Liberty Essay (Critical Writing)

Liberty can be defined as the freedom to do whatever one wishes without control from external forces such as the government. This means that people have the freedom to carry out their activities without restrictions from others. For instance, human beings at liberty are expected to make independent decisions since their thinking is not controlled by external forces. This is extremely beneficial because it gives human beings chances to be themselves (Rosen, 2003).

It is not always convenient to restrict deeds of human beings since they have their own reasoning powers. In addition, people from different places tend to have diverse thinking abilities hence making it impossible for authorities to control aspects of their lives. Many philosophers have argued that humankind should be given chances to rule over their lives, and it been proved that, in organisations where people work are liberal, productivity is enhanced. This is because people feel empowered and respected hence taking it as a motivation.

Mill argues that human beings should not be accountable to the society for things they do for themselves. This means that any action taken upon by human beings should not be used against them by the society since their freedom may be affected. However, he argues that in case the society feels that it must intervene, then this should be done in the form of advice (Bucki, 2011).

For instance, the society cannot watch and do nothing when one of its members is acting in a manner that is going to hurt them or others in the society. Since people are liberal, the society can use soft techniques on handling the issue, but they cannot force the person to compel to their wishes or thoughts. For example, the society may take action by marking areas that may end up being dangerous to human beings but they do not have the power to control human actions in such areas (Mill, 2010).

This means that the best they can do to caution human beings against possible dangers associated with some aspects within the community is to warn them in time. For example, the society can warn people not to use some routes during the night due to security reasons. This should be left to human beings to consider whether to obey or disobey the warning. The society cannot close those routes at night to ensure that everyone is safe but leave people to exercise their liberty.

In addition, Mill argues that although poison can cause harm to individuals, it should not be banned from being sold. Instead, people should be educated on its implications to human lives, and it should also be labeled and sold by authorized persons. This is essential because poison may have other uses, which are vital to human beings. For example, people may buy poison for controlling pests in their farms. If one feels that they should take poison, it is up to them, and the society can do nothing about it.

In fact, to curb acts that seem harmful to people, the society may take charge in prohibiting deeds that have affected others before in their environments. For example, if somebody takes the risk and decides to cross the river on a faulty bridge ignoring a warning put forward by authorities and eventually drowns, this may serve as a warning to others.

Therefore, people can disapprove this deed by avoiding using the bridge until it is reconditioned and commissioned by authorities for people to use (Mill, 2010). In fact, people should take actions that remain useful to them and avoid those that can cause harm to their lives. In addition, they should practice liberty in a manner that results to respecting others in the society.

Mill argues that individuals should be responsible for actions that hurt others in the society. This is particularly significant because individuals should not be allowed to carry out actions that affect liberty of others. It is selfish for individuals to practice their rights to liberty in a manner that affects rights of others. For example, parents may decide not to educate their children hence denying children their rights. Such actions affect lives of those children and the society should intervene (Cahn, 2010).

He argues that refusal to educate children is a social crime and should not be allowed in any way. Therefore, parents should be accountable for such actions. In addition, if someone becomes a nuisance to the society, action has to be taken because they cannot be allowed to practice their liberty at the expense of others. This means people should not be allowed to cause harm to others in the society.

In fact, Mill argues that people should be free to counsel others in the society with the aim of exchanging opinions. This does not affect one’s liberty since information is exchanged at free will, and nobody is forced to give any information to counselors (Cahn, 2010). If anyone becomes a nuisance to the community, the society has a right to punish them.

These punishments can be administered in various manners, which include social or legal actions taken against such individuals. For instance, people who become abusive after taking alcohol may be taken to law courts for legal actions. In addition, the society may take a social punitive action such as banning him from appearing in social places for a given period of time.


Bucki, C. (2011). Bridgeport’s Socialist New Deal, 1915-36. New York: University of Illinois Press.

Cahn, S. M. (2010). Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mill, J. S. (2010). On Liberty: John Stuart Mill’s 5 Legendary Lectures on Personal Liberty. London: Megalodon Entertainment LLC.

Rosen, F. (2003). Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill. New York: Routledge.

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"Mill's On Liberty." IvyPanda, 13 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/mills-on-liberty-critical-writing/.

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IvyPanda. "Mill's On Liberty." May 13, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mills-on-liberty-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Mill's On Liberty." May 13, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mills-on-liberty-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Mill's On Liberty'. 13 May.

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