Tuesday, November 18, 2014
John Stuart Mill (Thought and Discussion) - Shania DelCampo (13) #3 of 4
John Stuart Mill's Basic Thought and Discussion
Basically John believes that no idea should be silenced either by authority or the individual. In his opinion humans have an idea that their ideas are faultless. John, however, explains in his book On Liberty that people should have their own opinions but still be open for discussion. All parties in the discussion should then mold their opinion if another has a valid point and they should eventually reach a "middle ground." In his book he thinks of four possible criticisms and challenges them to prove his point.
This criticism talks about "conscientious conviction," meaning that if a person knows they are right and does not inform anyone of their discovery then they are acting cowardly. However John replies back to this by saying the only way the person should think that they are absolutely right is if they allowed their idea or discovery to be open to debate. As mentioned above, this debate will eventually reach a middle ground and then in a sense they will have the truth.
The second criticism is that the government's duty is to create laws that protect society. This goes along the lines that humans think there ideas are faultless. John still believes that even the government's ideas should be questioned because no human is perfect.so once again the answer to this problem is to open the law or idea up for discussion and reach that middle ground. In this criticism though John makes a point to say that even if you do not like the middle ground you should still abide by it until you produce evidence that changes it. John uses Emperor Marcus Aurelius as an example of government that needs to be discussed.
This criticism is that truth should always be questioned and since it is the truth it should always be successful. John says no that the person who discovered this truth should not always be debated because this questioning of their truth suggests we do not truly value their contribution to society. Also he says that just because it is true now does not me it will be true later. If it is an ultimate truth then it will continue to appear as the truth all through history.
Criticism four revolves around the topic that since we do not murder people with opposing opinions anymore a person's opinion cannot truly be extinguished. John argues that legal persecution of ideas still hinders society. In addition there is no guarantee that the government will not create new laws that goes further against unpopular ideas.