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Summary

First published in 1859, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty is an exhaustive exploration of social and civic liberty, its limits, and its consequences. Mill's work is a classic of political liberalism that contains a rational justification of the freedom of the individual in opposition to the claims of the state. Drawing upon the empiricism of John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume, and the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, On Liberty defends the representative democracy as the culmination of society's progression from lower to higher stages, even as it recognizes one of the unique dangers of this type of government - namely, the "tyranny of the majority".

Central to Mill's ideology is the harm principle - the idea that individual liberties should only be curtailed when they harm or interfere with the ability of others to exercise their own liberties. Unlike other liberal theorists, Mill did not rely upon theories of abstract rights to support his ideology, but rather grounded his philosophy in ideas of utility.

As relevant to modern audiences as it was to Mill's Victorian readership, On Liberty is an enduring classic of political thought.

Public Domain (P)2011 Tantor

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great introduction to some aspects of liberalism

This book is a great introduction to some aspects of modern Liberalism, while not agreeing with it completely.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jim Hennessy
  • 13-09-18

should be read by liberals and conservatives

should be read by liberals and conservatives to encourage civil discourse. it discusses the power of listening to those that do not agree with.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Josh
  • 23-02-21

Required

A book that should be part of every curriculum in every corner of every state.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-08-20

A bit primitive, but nonetheless thought-provoking

Very dull at points, and in 3-5 places unfortunately racist, mostly out of a cognitive dissonance over Britain's imperial colonies and their antithesis to liberty (though ironically the main points of the book argue for the free expression and debate of ideas specifically to correct such errors). From time to time one can discover interesting food for thought where parallels can be drawn to modern cases. However, the arguments for liberty are very first-order and naive, and anyone familiar with the foundational philosophy of the American constitution will find the arguments, while mostly true, nonetheless fairly simplistic (and extremely long-winded despite that). The first 1/3 or so of the Federalist papers, published some 75 years earlier, provide a much more pragmatic argumentation for liberty, not merely in the abstract philosophical sense, but in the sense of a resilient society prepared for persons of ambition and deception. I would recommend this book for adolescents and teenagers as an introduction to libertarian thought, except it's far too slow and boring for them.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Clara
  • 10-05-19

Why we need to limit Google, Facebook, Twitter etc

This book provides the clearest outline for the dangers and remedies to the greatest threat to our liberty since the jack boot.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Steven
  • 12-06-21

A classic

An absolute classic and I'm glad I had the opportunity to listen to it as an audiobook!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Valley Hart
  • 01-05-21

Nevermore needed the nail

He’s riding on the need to protect contrary opinion and others importance to freedom in true Dan Smith humanity has never been more needed than now at a time of cancel culture.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ryan R.
  • 11-01-19

Timeless.

Should be required reading for High school students. Chapter two is a fantastic review of the value and importance of free speech.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-03-22

Underrated

Very relevant to current times. A must read for a contemporary scholar. A libertarians handbook and music.

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  • 🎠
  • 08-03-22

the argument for inalienable human rights here

everyone who loves Democracy and equality should hear this one. recommended reading in my fantasy classroom.

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  • Stephen Sisino
  • 07-03-22

The clear definition of the word

For anyone interested, this work lays out the basics of a concept you may have thought simple.