Analysis Of ' On Liberty '

1889 Words Apr 12th, 2015 8 Pages
In Chapter III of his book, ‘On Liberty’, Mill argues against the “tyranny of conformism”i, and in accord with the tenets of the ‘harm principle’, he suggests that an individual “should be allowed, without molestation to carry his [or her] opinions into practice at his [or her] own cost”ii so long as he or she does “not make himself [or herself] a nuisance to other people”iii. Although Mill recognises that “it would be absurd to pretend that people ought to live as if nothing whatever had been known in the world before they came into it”, he provides a utilitarian argument in favour of his doctrine of ‘non-conformity’, and he asserts that conformity is both contrary to “individual flourishing”iv, and detrimental to the “diversity of character and culture”v that has “has made the European family of nations an improving, instead of a stationary, portion of mankind”vi.
Although I agree with Mill’s concerns about conformity and how it affects both the individual and the society within which he or she inhabits, I will argue that because he does not provide a comprehensive definition of what constitutes “harm”vii, or alternatively, being a “nuisance to other people”viii, his doctrine of ‘non-conformity’ will precipitate conflict, and – contrary to his justification for its inception - increase net disutility within society. I will then endeavour to outline why Mills doctrine of non-conformity is also inherently contradictory, and is therefore logically unsatisfactory.
In this…
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