On Liberty - John Stuart Mill's Constraints for a Workable Society – Book Report/Review Example

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The paper “ On Liberty - John Stuart Mill's Constraints for a Workable Society” is an  excellent example of a book review on sociology. John Stuart Mill’ s book on liberty (P. F. Collier & Son, 1909) mainly espouses that the development of individual liberty is constrained by the development of the government itself wherein the voice of the majority rules over those not belonging to the class of the majority. Hence, when the government refers to the will of the people, it actually meant the “ will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people” (Stuart, p.

5). John Stuart Mill further discusses this aspect of the rule of the majority as a constraint to individual liberty applying it to the case of freedom of expression, the action of people having unpopular views and society’ s ability to curtail individual freedom. Objectives. This essay will discuss the issue of whether the constraints John Stuart Mill places on liberty make for a workable society. It will delve on his main contention which is the government itself puts constraints on the liberties of individuals living in a society.

Applicable Australian political setting or issues will help illustrate the discussions of the issue of this essay. Overall Argument. The author outlines his essay presentation with the argument that indeed the constraint John Stuart Mill places on liberty is still realistic for a workable society. Structure. The essay presents the overall constraint place by the government on individual liberty as identified by John Stuart Mill. Constraints to liberty related to freedom of expression, the action of people with unpopular views and society’ s ability to curtail individual freedom follow the discussion. Constraints Put by the Government on Individual Liberty Necessary for a Workable Society Mill further argues that spontaneous acts of individual liberty must be subject to outside control such as the laws imposed by the government particularly if it harms other individuals’ right to enjoy life and live safely within the community (P. F.

Collier & Son, p. 12). This is what he meant by the government putting constraints to individual liberty of its citizens so as to implement the peaceful co-existence of its citizens. Hence, laws and ordinances have to be followed so that there is a uniform benchmark to assess inordinate behaviors of citizens and determine who are acting way out of the line of what is supposed to be socially and lawfully acceptable.

Only the enacting these laws allow for a livable society where everyone feels safe to live in a community, secured in their own homes. However, creating these laws must not go through an authoritarian process but must be developed through a consultative process where the majority will give their consent on the appropriateness of such laws.

Consent must be given either through individual or representative consent such as the one being done by the political system of Australia where citizens have to both for a representative to the parliament who will be responsible for passing laws that is relevant and helpful for their constituents. The institutionalization of the government is crucial to implement necessary laws to protect citizens from unlawful threats. Australian political system is an example of such an organized government system. As what Mill discusses in the first chapter of On Liberty (P. F.

Collier & Son, 1909) the creation of government progress from the rule of the ruler to the rule of the majority which is determined by a democratic process called the electoral process where citizens vote for its representatives to the government who will decide who will sit on the higher office to govern how the country will be run but subject to the scrutiny and supervision of the majority. Hence, Australian has a federal system of government with parliamentary procedures wherein citizens of every States vote their own representatives for the congress and senate to enact laws and vote for the prime minister of the country (Parliament of Australia Education Office).

It is this system of the rule of the majority that the Australian political system emanates to directly serve the people of Australia. This system of governance is set to put inline citizens’ ways with the majority clamoring for peaceful existence hence the creation of a legal or criminal system that will punish those who will not abide by the laws enforced by parliament. It is in this constraint to absolute freedom that Australia is created into a workable and livable society at present, hence, making it a realistic illustration of Mill’ s contention in his book.


1. Mill, J.S. On Liberty. Harvard Classics, Volume 25, 109, P.F. Collier & Son. http://www.constitution.org/jsm/liberty.htm. [7 September 2007].

2. Parliament of Australia Education Office. The Parliamentary System. http://www.aph.gov.au/parl.htm#parlsys. [11 September 2007].

3. Humphry, Aborigines-Western Australia Criminal Justice System. Volume 2, Number 1, 1995. http://www.murdoch.edu.au/elaw/issues/v2n1/humphry21.html. [ 11 September 2007].

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