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Justice - Lecture 5

Lecture 5 - Benefits of Freedom

- Mill says that On Liberty defends "one very simple principle." What is that principle?
- How would Mill respond to restrictions on racist hate speech, or pornography, or slander?
- How does Mill argue for his "simple principle" on utilitarian grounds? How is the general welfare improved by tolerating religious, philosophical, and moral dissent? What are the costs of such toleration? Why do the benefits outweigh the costs?
- Do you think that conduct ought only to be regulated if it is harmful to others? Can you think of cases in which conduct ought to be regulated in the name of the person's own welfare (drugs, seat belts), or because it is repulsive (bestiality), or because it is offensive to others (public sex), or because it is judged to be wrong (suicide, physician-assisted suicide)?
- If you are not convinced of Mill's utilitarian rationale for his principle of liberty, can you think of a more convincing rationale?

Prof. Joshua Cohen
17.01J / 24.04J Justice
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare)
Date accessed: 2008-12-28
License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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