John Stuart Mill

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What is John Stuart Mill's opinion on the majority or the masses?

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John Stuart Mill argued strenuously against what he saw as the tyranny of the majority. Mill lived at a time when more and more people were gaining the right to vote, and although he supported the growth of democracy in England, he was nonetheless aware of the problems that the extension of the franchise would create.

As an arch-liberal, Mill was strongly committed to individual liberty, and he saw this liberty as being under threat from a democratic majority that could use its superior weight of numbers to repress ideas, opinions, and ways of life with which it disagreed. Mill recognized that, in an increasingly democratic age, it was all too easy to lose sight of the individual and his or her rights. That being the case, it was necessary at all times to assert the rights of the individual against society, especially when the democratic majority tries to impose its will on the minority.

Being part of a society imposes certain obligations on people, and Mill maintains that everyone should adhere to them. But at the same time, individuals should have the freedom to engage in certain forms of behavior or hold certain opinions that the majority finds repugnant, just as long as they don't harm anyone.

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