Term Paper: Mill &amp Charles Taylor's Concepts of Liberty

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Mill & Charles Taylor's concepts of liberty

Two concepts of liberty': J. S Mill's emphasis on individualism as liberty, and Charles Taylor's classification of the exercise concept and action as forms of liberty

In discussing the concept of liberty, two important points come into mind: what liberty is and it represents, and what it is not. Liberty is associated with the concept of thinking and acting freely, and the curtailment of these activities constitutes what liberty is not. Thus, liberty is perceived as a "positive" concept because it benefits the individual; what it is not, therefore, is considered "negative."

Indeed, discourses on the concept of liberty had been a heated issue among political philosophers for centuries, and increased gradually with the emergence of 19th century, wherein new ideologies and philosophies paved the way for intellectual development to occur in human society. Among these political philosophers who have contemplated the deeper meaning and significance of liberty to human society are John Stuart Mill and Charles Taylor. Each philosopher presented his own concept of what constitutes positive liberty, discussing within the context of negative liberty as well.

In this paper, the researcher discusses and analyzes the concept of liberty, positive liberty, and negative liberty in the context of Mill and Taylor's writings. Referring to Mill's "On liberty" and Taylor's "What's wrong with negative liberty," this paper posits that while Mill and Taylor have similar conceptions of liberty, they differ in operationalizing this important concept. That is, while Mill considers liberty as a right that is reflected through the pursuit of individualism and welfare of the common good, Taylor argues that liberty must be applied in the context it is used, that is, identifying the "qualitative aspect" in which liberty takes place. Further discussion of these important points is included in the texts that follow.

Mill's discussion in "On liberty" looks into the philosopher's translational analysis of liberty with individualism. That is, for Mill, liberty is the right of the individual where s/he is free to think, speak, and act on whatever issues or concerns of the society. He elucidates on this important aspect of liberty as follows: "...human beings should be free to form opinions, and to express their opinions without reserve; and such the baneful consequences to the intellectual, and through that to the moral nature of man, unless this liberty is either conceded, or asserted in spite of prohibition..." In this passage, it is apparent that Mill subscribes to a person's sense of individualism in determining his/her prerogative to exercise his/her liberty. Thus, the exercise of liberty, while it is a free privilege of every individual, is ultimately dependent on the individual himself/herself, on his/her decision to exercise and use it to benefit not only the self, but also others.

However, Mill also cautions his readers about the detriment that comes out from exercising liberty… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Mill &amp Charles Taylor's Concepts of Liberty."  Essaytown.com.  November 23, 2004.  Accessed November 13, 2019.