By John Gray
This quantity brings jointly J.S. generators On Liberty and a variety of significant essays via such eminent students as Isaiah Berlin, Alan Ryan, John Rees, C.L. Ten and Richard Wollheim. in addition to offering authoritative remark upon On Liberty, the essays mirror a broader debate in regards to the philosophical foundations of Mill's liberalism, really the query of the relationship betweenMill's professed utilitarianism and his dedication to person liberty. brought and edited through John grey and G.W. Smith, the e-book can be of curiosity to scholars of Mill, to moral and political philosophers and to a person attracted to the modern prestige of liberalism.
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Where, on the other hand, a class, formerly ascendant, has lost its ascendancy, or where its ascendancy is unpopular, the prevailing moral sentiments frequently bear the impress of an impatient dislike of super ior ity. Another grand deter mining principle of the rules of conduct, both in act and forbearance, which have been enforced by law or opinion, has been the servility of mankind towards the supposed preferences or aversions of their temporal masters, or of their gods. This servility, though essentially selfish, is not hypocrisy; it gives rise to perfectly genuine sentiments of abhorrence; it made men burn magicians and heretics.
Let us suppose, therefore, that the government is entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice. But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself if illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance with public opinion, than when in opposition to it.
35 2 OF THE LIBERTY OF THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION The time, it is to be hoped, is gone by, when any defence would be necessary of the ‘liberty of the press’ as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government. No argument, we may suppose, can now be needed, against permitting a legislature or an executive, not identified in interest with the people, to prescribe opinions to them, and determine what doctrines or what arguments they shall be allowed to hear. This aspect of the question, besides, has been so often and so triumphantly enforced by preceding writers, that it needs not be specially insisted on in this place.