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A2 Government & Politics Liberalism
On Liberty (1859 - John Stuart Mill
"By liberty, was meant protection against the tyranny of the political rulers."
"The aim, therefore, of patriots, was to set limits to the power which the ruler should be
suffered to exercise over the community; and this limitation was what they meant by
"The "people" who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over
whom it is exercised; and the "self-government" spoken of is not the government of each by
himself, but of each by all the rest."
"The will of the people, moreover, practically means, the will of the most numerous or the
most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves
accepted as the majority: the people, consequently, may desire to oppress part of their
number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as against any other abuse of
"Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs
protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the
tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and
practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development,
and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and
compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own."
"They have occupied themselves rather in inquiring what things society ought to dislike, than
in questioning whether its likings or dislikings should be a law to individuals."
"That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a
civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
"Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."
"I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be utility in the
largest sense, grounded on the permanent interests of a man as a progressive being."
"A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either
case he is justly accountable to them for the inquiry."
"This, then, is the appropriate region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward domain
of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty
of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical
or speculative, scientific, moral or theological."
"The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own
way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to
obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and
spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to
themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest."
"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary
opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had
the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
"In politics, again, it is almost a common-place, that a party of order or stability, and a party
of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life"
Unit 3 Introducing Political IdeologiesPage 1