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On Liberty and the Subjection of Women (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

John Stuart Mill
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Book Description

31 Aug 2006 Penguin Classics
A prodigiously brilliant thinker who sharply challenged the beliefs of his age, the political and social radical John Stuart Mill was the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century. Regarded as one of the sacred texts of liberalism, his great work On Liberty argues lucidly that any democracy risks becoming a 'tyranny of opinion' in which minority views are suppressed if they do not conform with those of the majority. Written in the same period as On Liberty, shortly after the death of Mill's beloved wife and fellow-thinker Harriet, The Subjection of Women stresses the importance of equality for the sexes. Together, the works provide a fascinating testimony to the hopes and anxieties of mid-Victorian England, and offer a compelling consideration of what it truly means to be free.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (31 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014144147X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441474
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 13.3 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"On Liberty" remains a classic. . . . The present world would be better than it is if [MillAEs] principles were more respected. (Bertrand Russell)

About the Author

John Stuart Mill (1806-73). Utilitarianism was published in 1861 but before that Mill published his System of Logic (1843), Principles of Political Economy (1848) and On Liberty (1839). His other works include his classic Autobiography (1873). Mill retired in 1858 and became the independent MP for Westminster from 1865 to 1868. He spent the rest of his life in France and died in Avignon.

Alan Ryan is the Warden of the New College, Oxford, and before that was Professor of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, and J.S. Mill, and the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of Utilitarianism and Other Essays.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic text on marketsc and freedom... 8 July 2013
By os TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
`On Liberty' is a basic text for anyone wishing to discuss the merits of the free market. Although primarily a political tract, this book is vital reading for economists. Let me set the scene. Mill is ultimately an optimist. He feels that `man' is ultimately rational and knows his own interests better than any other person or organisation. Man is capable of error, negligence and gross stupidity, but experience will teach him wisdom. Likewise society functions not through the operation of `big' government but through the market. Actions, ideas, skills all have a place in society. They find their value through the market system. It is through the market exchange process that individuals prosper. Man exchanges his services or goods for money or other goods and services. By this way as Adam Smith noted, choice, value and general individual welfare is maximised.

`On Liberty' stresses the role of freedom. Freedom is the basis for all Human happiness.' Freedom' allows markets to operate and for individuals to act in accordance with their needs and just as importantly in terms of their conscience. `Freedom' means having the ability to do `good' things as well as `bad', to fail as well as succeed. Mill therefore is in favour of `small' government for the protection of rights, internal and external protection. He is in favour of religious freedoms for all ( not just Christians), women's rights and not surprisingly, free trade. He focuses on the role of the individual and minority groups. He knows that governments are fallible, that is when they are not falling into corruption or misguided benevolence. Therefore the role of government in society should be kept to a minimum. Likewise Christian verities are questionable use as principles in governance.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Derek Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This Penguin edition has a relatively unusual combination. "On Liberty" is more often paired with "Utilitarianism" and "Representative Government" but the pairing with "The Subjection of Women" is worthwhile even though the latter is primarily of historical interest now.

"On Liberty" is one of the most important books on political thought of the nineteenth century. Fortunately for the 21st century reader it is also one of the most accessible. Mill was a libertarian who chose not to base his defence of liberty on natural rights but on his own revised version of utilitarianism:
"I regard utility as the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions...grounded on the permanent interests of man as a progressive being."
This enables Mill to argue that freedom is needed if man is to be able to explore all the avenues of human development that allow the human race to progress. Total freedom is impossible so what determines the legitimate boundaries of freedom? Mill distinguishes between self-regarding and other-regarding actions. The former should never be interfered with and the latter subject to limitation only if they harm the legitimate rights of others.

For Mill free thought is a self-regarding action which should not be curtailed, and free thought is virtually useless without free speech. He was thinking not only of the legislative curtailemnt of free speech but also the pressure for social conformity, fearing as he did a "tyranny of the majority". Mill then proceeds to add a utilitarian argument in favour of free speech: if an opinion is silenced then mankind is necessarily the loser whether the opinion is true or false.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great 6 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a course book it arrived in good time well packed and i will use this site again and recommend it
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, clear, convincing. 4 Feb 2012
By Matthew M. Howell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mill's ideas are delivered in clear language, and the steps between them are laid out rationally and logically, so that all his arguments are easy to follow. Unlike Rousseau, who treated political philosophy as something akin to a complex physics equation, Mill argues from reason and appeals to common sense. Furthermore, many of his arguments are fully applicable to political situations we see around us today. This book is WELL worth reading; in fact, were I given dictatorial powers, I would mandate that every person had to read this book before ever opening their mouth in a political discussion.
5.0 out of 5 stars Two great works on political economy and equity 30 Oct 2013
By Belinda Roman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The feminist movement should go back and read JSM because this work is truly relevant. Everyone should read about equality as it was understood and intended.
5.0 out of 5 stars nice 30 Jan 2013
By Courtney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I needed this for a class i am in this semester and the book came quick and looked really nice!
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Edition 28 Aug 2011
By Daniel Sheffler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This edition is well printed and bound for a black spine penguin classic. The text is, of course, a classic, a seminal work in individual liberalism.
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