ON LIBERTY - Mill excerpts - Note from Matt As a philosophy...

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Note from Matt: As a philosophy professor, I have to be biased and recommend you read the Mill’s original text (or at least give it a shot). However, I have also included an edited summary from SparkNotes, in case you get fed-up with Mill’s writing style. I would recommend reading both, but it’s fine if you only read one (as long as you understand the content) ON LIBERTY (excerpts) by John Stuart Mill First published: 1859 Harvard Classics Volume 25 -- Copyright 1909 P.F. Collier & Son This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, released September 1993. About the online edition: This was scanned from the 1909 edition and mechanically checked against a commercial copy of the text from CD-ROM. Differences were corrected against the paper edition. The text itself is thus a highly accurate rendition. This Internet Wiretap online edition was prepared by [email protected] Paragraph numbering below has been added to facilitate class discussion. It was not included in the original publication. CHAPTER II OF THE LIBERTY OF THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION #7. … But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. . . . #8. First: the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by authority may possibly be true. Those who desire to suppress it, of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. They have no authority to decide the question for all mankind, and exclude every other person from the means of judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. Its condemnation may be allowed to rest on this common argument, not the worse for being common. . . .
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#9. . . .There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right. . . . #10. It still remains to speak of one of the principal causes which make diversity of opinion advantageous, and will continue to do so until mankind shall have entered a stage of intellectual advancement which at present seems at an incalculable distance. We have hitherto considered only two possibilities: that the received opinion may be false, and some other opinion,
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ON LIBERTY - Mill excerpts - Note from Matt As a philosophy...

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