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

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reej | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 20, 2010 at 8:10 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 October 23, 2010 at 6:03 AM (Answer #1)

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Quotations such as these prove how strongly passionate Mill was on the notion of individual choice and liberty.  The inclusion of the idea of "silencing that one person" helps to bring this out.  Mill was driven by the idea that the tyranny of the majority is an absolute wrong, something that political establishments must strive to avoid.  In an era where industry was emerging throughout the world, doing its best to ensure that all voices were moderated by wealth and social condition, Mill's writing reminds us that there are some transcendent values that have to be revered in the modern political setting.  The idea of ensuring that all opinions are heard, and that the contrary ones, small as they might be, could not be silenced is a powerful one.  Its implications are that if one voice is silenced today, more will follow.  The development of the "slippery slope" argument concerning individual rights takes hold in Mill's ideas such as the one featured.

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