Compare the conception of freedom by any two of the following: Rousseau, Marx and Mills.

Essay by mirza123 December 2003

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Compare the conception of freedom by any two of the following: Rousseau, Marx and Mills.

Freedom in the most basic terms is a license to do what one wishes. Citizens can experiment with certain behaviour both good and bad, without becoming criminals. The idea of freedom has been one that has many interpretations to it. People view it in different ways. Therefore, the freedom in one state will be different to another. For example in states like Saudi Arabia people have the freedom from intoxication and causing self-harm. This is a 'positive' freedom done through a paternalistic approach by the state with severe punishments for those inflicting harm on themselves through intoxication. Whereas in states like the Netherlands people have the 'negative' freedom to intoxicate themselves and be the judge of there own morals. The point that is being emphasised is that there is no concrete set of beliefs that determine freedom.

Over the years political philosophers have explored this notion setting out their own conceptions of freedom in books. This essay will look at two particular writers: Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Stuart Mill. Their ideas and notion of freedom will be explored and compared in this essay.

John Stuart Mill was one of the great Utilitarian philosophers of the nineteenth century. His work made much contribution to this notion and was influential both with the governments of the day and beyond, with his profound debates on individuality and liberty still having relevance to the governments of today. It is in "On Liberty" that Mill sets out most strongly his ideas on individual freedom, both social and political, and in this text he sets out a comprehensive and profound defence of the freedom of expression.

"On Liberty" begins with a discussion concerning the tyrannies,