Individual freedom.

Essay by raf134 April 2003

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Individual Freedom

How important is the freedom of the individual? In the present societies, people are concerned with individual liberty and all sorts of freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of free association and so on. John Stuart Mill, an 19th century European philosopher wrote extensively about individual liberty. Mill argued that the society should have minimal interference on the liberty of the individual and should only do so in order to promote true individual development. Mill is concerned with progressive liberalism; the aim is to promote individual happiness. The government has to play a minimal role in providing basic conditions like social welfare and social health but should not interfere with individual initiative. A social structure should be put in place to promote individual welfare thus leading to individual happiness and growth.

Mill wrote that in history, liberty was more about the protection of the individual against the tyranny of political rulers "who derived their authority from inheritance or conquest" (1034).

It has always been necessary to have leaders oversee the day-to-day affairs of various societies and prevent anarchy. The leaders guarded the weaker members of society from being exploited by the stronger. The leaders commissioned by the to keep law and order. " But as the king of the vultures would be no less bent upon preying on the flock than any of the minor harpies" it was necessary to limit the power the ruler had over the people (1034).

Mill emphasized that times changed and people reasoned that there was no need to have rulers whose interest was opposed to the interest of the people. There was a need to have elected individuals lead the people but their leadership could be revocable at the people's pleasure. In this way, people felt confident that the...