14: On Freedom



Key Terms


  • Read and analyze descriptions of philosophical thought
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the pursuit of a just society
  • Demonstrate an ability to discuss and reflect upon the application of the course material to various aspects of life.
  • Evaluate the personal and social responsibilities of living in a diverse world.

I. Eighteenth Century Thought on Liberty

  • A. John Locke
    • English physician
    • Enlightenment Thinker
    • Life, liberty, property
  • B. Thomas Paine
    • American colonist
    • Common Sense
    • Argued for equality and liberty among men
  • C. Jeremy Bentham
    • English barrister
    • Founded the Philosophical Radicals
    • Utilitarianism
    • Actions judged by results
    • Actions that lead to happiness are better

II. Who is John Stuart Mill?

  • Father: James Mill, active member of the Philosophical Radicals
  • Extensive education by father
  • No formal schooling
  • Wrote books around the same time he was a Member of Parliament
  • On Liberty (1859), Utilitarianism (1863), The Subjection of Women (1869) 
  • Liberal thinker

III. Mill’s On Liberty


Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign

  • A. Personal Liberty
    • Defense of the liberty of the individual with regard to the state’s authority
    • The state should be restricted when it comes to the freedom of individuals
    • Especially applies to democracies to prevent them from becoming a “tyranny of the majority”
    • Minority opinions should be permitted
    • Truth is strengthened by open debate
  • B. Role of the Government
    • Restricted
    • Government intervention is only appropriate if an individual’s actions harm another individual
    • Personal liberty from compulsion, not debate
  • C. Justifying Personal Liberty and Limited Government
    • Utilitarianism
    • Liberty applied to every adult
    • Freedom from harm is a basic right of humanity


The burden of proof should be on those who want to limit liberty, not on those who want more liberty

IV. Mill’s The Subjection of Women

  • Universal rights of man applied to women
  • Equal liberty at birth is restricted
  • The law should be impartial
  • Tradition is not enough to justify inequality
  • Examine where the tradition came from to refute it

V. Mill’s Conceptions of Justice

  • Five meanings of justice
    1. Not depriving someone of personal liberty, property, possessions
    2. Not disobeying the laws of society
    3. Receiving good or evil as deserved
    4. Honoring agreements and telling the truth
    5. Acting impartially and treating others equally

Logic Week 14: Cherry Picking