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Critically comment on the following lines from ON LIBERTY."If all mankind minus one...

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maahaa | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 20, 2010 at 4:37 PM via web

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Critically comment on the following lines from ON LIBERTY.

"If all mankind minus one were of a 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 silencing mankind."


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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 20, 2010 at 8:11 PM (Answer #1)

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The statement speaks to Mill's unending commitment to the right of personal expression.  In his work, Mill speaks quite passionately to the individual not having to endure coercion from a social or political element.  The notion that the "tyranny of the majority" is justified in silencing a minority voice or presence is something that Mill repudiates.  The selected excerpt speaks to this.  In Mill's mind, one would reject the notion of one voice controlling the majority.  In the same vein, there is a rejection of a majority block silencing the lone voice of the minority.  In the end, the excerpt speaks to how Mill is committed to the rights and expression of the individual at all costs, regardless of efforts to build consensus that detract from individual voice.

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