The Harm Principle And Free Speech In John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

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After the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, there was tremendous sympathy for the victims. However the debate over whether there are any limits to free speech continues, and this is what I will argue throughout this essay. The question I pose; are there any cases when expression should be limited? Looking at John Stuart Mill’s twofold argument on the topic we get an insight into his theory of ‘The Harm Principle and Free Speech’ in On Liberty (Mill, 1859). In chapter one of Mill’s book “On Liberty” published 1859, he observes that freedom can be split into three types. Firstly, he mentions the liberty of thought and opinion. The second type is the liberty of tastes and pursuits and the freedom we have to plan our own lives. Thirdly, there is the liberty to strive for a common purpose with other like-minded people without harming anyone. According to Mill each type “must be recognized and respected by any free society.” (Mill, 1859) Looking at Mill’s concept of the liberty of thought and opinion, we reflect on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack. It was an act of violence in response to what Mill would consider freedom of opinion and thought. This links back to my original question; should expression be limited in certain circumstances? According to Mill each individual should be…show more content…
We understand the satire that was published was prejudiced and slightly racist, towards the Muslim community. Should this qualify as an opportunity for society to step in according to Mill? I feel if Mill were to voice his opinion today, it would indeed qualify for the interjection of society as the satire did affect prejudicially the interests of certain parts of the Muslim
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