In the final two chapters of the essay “On Liberty”, J.S. Mill discusses a few different subjects concerning individual civilization. The one example I believe is important begins on page 92. Here he discusses how he feels about society trying to help or change a way that someone has decided to live their life. The decisions they make and the actions that they do are completely up to the individual themselves. I will try to further examine the role society plays in a person’s civilization and what arguments Mill made to explain the situation.
In the first three chapters, Mill discussed when and why someone’s personal
Liberties should, if at all, be taken away. He felt that only if someone was about to harm themselves or others, their liberty should be interrupted or abolished. The situation discussed in chapter four that I was mostly concerned with was when he began to talk about a person’s living conditions being influenced by an outside person, government, or distant society. He was not aware that any that any community has the right to force a person to become civilized (92). He felt that it is not right for someone who lives miles away or who are completely blind of the situation to be able to step in and direct a problem into the direction they feel is right. The society does not have the right to persuade a person to live a certain way or conduct their lives as others do. Other communities should not feel as though they deserve to express their opinion or law onto another human being just because they are living their life differently than others. As long as there is no harm inflicted or threatening harm to others within the community, opposing figures should not have the right to invade a situation and try to control it.
An example of this that Mill uses is a case of a man crossing an unsafe bridge. He states that if someone is crossing a bridge that isn’t safe and an officer or another person sees this, there isn’t time to warn of the danger. The person might be seized and turned back, without his liberties taken away. The idea is that your liberty is what you desire to do or feel. The man does not desire to fall into the river, so by withdrawing him from the bridge his liberties are not broken. On the other hand, no one knows why this person desires to take the risk of falling into the river. So, unless he is a child or someone who is incapable of making their own discussions (due to mental retardation), he should only be warned of the danger and not forcibly removed from the bridge (96-97). This would not be hurting his liberties. You are just conducting an expression of the danger ahead for the individual. If you forcibly remove the person, their liberties would be somewhat invaded. Before taking action of a situation, one should know all of the circumstances and facts. Maybe for some crazy reason the man wanted to fall into the river, then his liberties would be torn apart because the officer felt differently.
Mill states that there are three kinds of objections to government interference. The first is when the thing to be done is likely to be better done by the individual rather than by the government (109). This means that sometimes a person will know what is better for themselves than the government will know. They know how to live their life to make themselves happy because their discussion doesn’t involve or affect anyone else. The second kind is when the government tries to interfere with the development of an individual. They feel that they aren’t developing correctly or well. They try to interfere and conduct a way of life for the person (109). The third kind is the great evil of adding unnecessary to its power (110). This means when the government tries to add institutions into their line of power to better control the community. They try to control banks, roadways, and schools. In the end, it is just a big mess and an invasion on everyone’s personal liberties.
In conclusion, no one should have their liberties taken from them. If someone feels that they want to do something even if another person disagrees, they should have every right to do so. When the government tries to control the public a large mess is created. We live in a democratized society and our rights and liberties should be left alone. We are supposed to be able to enjoy our freedoms, which include making our own decisions. The amount of laws and morals our communities have already limit our rights to freedom. There is not much room in our lives for any government involvement.