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eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
PublisherAppleton-Century-Crofts (NY)
File size3.1 Mb
Pages count118
Book rating4.6 (15822 votes)
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On Liberty is a philosophical work by British philosopher John Stuart Mill. It was radical to Victorian readers of the time because it supported individuals' moral & economic freedom from the state. Perhaps the most memorable point made by Mill in this work, & his basis for liberty, is that "over himself, over his own body & mind, the individual is sovereign". He's compelled to make this assertion in opposition to what he calls the "tyranny of the majority", wherein thru control of etiquette & morality, society is an unelected power that can do horrific things. This work could be considered a reaction to this social control by the majority & his advocacy of individual decision-making over the self. The famous Harm Principle, or the principle of liberty, is also articulated in this work: the state or any other social body has no right to coerce or restrict the individual unless the individual causes harm to others, crucially, the individual's own physical or moral harm is not justification for constriction of their liberty. All branches of liberalism—as well as other political ideologies—consider this to be a core principle. However, they often disagree on what exactly constitutes harm.
On Liberty was influential. The ideas presented in the book have remained the basis of much liberal political thought ever since. Aside from the popularity of the ideas themselves, the book is short, its themes accessible to non-experts. It has remained in print continuously since initial publication. To this day, a copy of it has been passed to the president of the British Liberals, & then Liberal Democrats, as a symbol of office & succession from the party that Mill helped found.

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