Truth Revealed In John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

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In 1951, Solomon Asche conducted a simple experiment in order to measure the tendency for a person to let their surrounding peers affect his or her answers to the uncomplicated question of the length of lines. While the correct answers to the questions were quite obvious, if the test subject was among a group of people who gave incorrect answers, that test subject was much more likely to give the same wrong answer, despite knowing the truth. Only rarely did a person deviate from the majority answer. Consequently, only when that person accepted their role as a pariah was the truth revealed. This experiment is a prime example of one of the main components of liberty in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. While Asche’s experiment poses questions based upon (supposedly) irrefutable mathematical facts, its surprising results reveal that a majority opinion is not necessarily the truth, and that “if opponents of all-important truths do not exist,” then society will never be able to progress (Mill 36). This means that no matter an individual’s…show more content…
Mill considers this situation also very concerning, referring to it as “the tyranny of the majority” (4). Even without a formal law or government in place, the citizens of a society tend to regulate themselves to a certain extent. However, this extent, more often than not, turns into a autocratic opinion that shames the minority that has a different perspective. Society must take into consideration these defective forms of decision making while determining the legal status of polygamy. To arrive at a fair decision, the citizens and their governing body would have to work in conjunction. In a sense, this means electing laws through majority rules, but while still maintaining minority rights. This essentially comes down to respecting the rights of all citizens, no matter the person’s view on polygamy. This idea is described through Mill’s harm
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