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The Importance of Freedom of Speech
The issue of free speech is one the most debated topics in many societies. This issue is brought out in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. In this essay, I will argue that Mill’s arguments for free speech, in spite of being originally published in 1859, are still a strong basis through which modern issues of freedom of expression can be examined and taught.
The Moral Foundation of Mill’s Argument about Government
Mill’s objective in On Liberty is to highlight the context and restriction of the authority which can be rightfully exercised by the government of a person. In the mid-section, he comes up with arguments for liberty of expression, stating that a government should not simply tolerate, but supports speech that is regarded objectionable due to four reasons. First, he assumes infallibility; this means that since no human is infallible, one must embrace the chance that an idea the deviate from popular opinion is true. Second, a notion that is wrong may have a section of truth that is not present in mainstream opinion. Third, even if the dominant opinion is the absolute truth, the individuals who hold the notion do not comprehend or feel the reasonable basis of the opinion unless it is challenged regularly. Lastly, in the lack of intense debate, the meaning of the notion itself will face the risk of being lost, weakened, and deprived of its key impact on conduct and character; this is what he refers to as dead dogma.The term is used to refer to laws that lack context and meaning. Overall, Mill believes that expressions of opinions, however offensive, should not be restricted by the government in any situation if it does not cause harm.
Mill’s Argument in Support of Liberty of Thought and Discussion
In his argument, Mill discusses the Harm Principle in reinforcing the freedom of expression and freedom of thought. The principle states that one’s freedom to speech should not be interfered with even if his/her opinions are controversial. These liberties are discrete since whereas thought is self-centered, the expression of an individual’s thoughts apparently has an impact on other people. Therefore, it is probable that expression can harm other individuals; in such situations, the government can have legitimate grounds to regulate expression. Nonetheless, since freedom of expression has a similar degree of importance as freedom of thought, it cannot be practically separated from the liberty of thought. On that account, Mill states that both go hand in hand. The government may only interfere with individuals for believing and expressing their thoughts if those perceptions can cause harm to other people; even in this case, it should only interfere if the intervention would be more benefice than failing to do so. Therefore, there should be total freedom of thought and expression on all topics, whether it is practical, theological, scientific, moral, or speculative, irrespective of whether the opinion is immoral.
Mill’s first argument is founded on the notion that the progress of a society is unavoidably related to the development of individuals. In his utilitarian system, the discovery of truth is a key assumed societal objective.Utilitarianism simply states that People who think independently promote the search for truth by pursuing their notions as far as they can reach even if this journey leads to conclusions that make them and other people uncomfortable. The expression of contentious thoughts plays a key role in this process. A second, and connected argument brought forward by Mill is the effect of free speech on individual character. Mill suggests that a society in which thoughts are subject to opposition endorse the development of character features in people that are especially valuable to a culture, including their aptitude to engage in key inquiry, an inclination to challenge notions firmly held by oneself and other people, and the nerve to defend opinions that are not broadly held . Mill states that these features will end in the selection of increasingly truthful notions. Even though Mill eventually rationalizes a commitment to freedom of speech based on the supposed role of speech in joint truth-seeking, it is the aspects centered more on the individual of his argument that has continued to guide recent scholarship, which includes the development of justifications for freedom of speech by constructs of autonomy.
Personal Opinion on Freedom of Speech
I believe that freedom of speech is important since it challenges intellectual laziness, self-satisfaction, and hypocrisy; this applies to our thoughts of liberty, democracy, freedom expression, and equality, among others. Therefore, even these notions should be challenged. In a democracy, it is necessary for individuals to criticize liberty and democracy or individuals will begin to forget the things that are valuable in a democracy.
In conclusion, Mill’s suggestions paint a portrait of what he believes is in the long-term interests of humans as progressive beings. It is better for individuals to have the ability to reason for themselves, to comprehend their beliefs, to develop their intellectual and rational aptitude. It is better for people to be open-minded and to possess the ideas that motivate them since they comprehend them, rather than since they are mainstream beliefs. An open and inquiring mind is better than closed and thoughtless one.