Mill's Liberal Principles and Freedom of Expression
MILL'S ON LIBERTY: A CRITICAL GUIDE, C.L. Ten, ed., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2007
John Stuart Mill's defense of freedom of expression has proved extremely influential and finds important echoes in First Amendment jurisprudence. Though important in its own right, Mill's defense of freedom of expression also plays an important, though sometimes overlooked, role in his more general defense of individual liberties. Mill turns to freedom of expression in the belief that there is general agreement on the importance of freedom of expression and that, once the grounds for expressive liberties are understood, this agreement can be exploited to support a more general defense of individual liberties. This means that a proper understanding of the significance of Mill's defense of freedom of expression requires not only reconstructing his arguments on behalf of expressive liberties and exploring their bearing on issues of freedom of expression but also seeing how these arguments generalize to other kinds of liberties. In this regard, it is especially instructive to consider how his claims about freedom of expression inform his liberal principles, especially what his discussion of the best grounds for expressive liberties can tell us about the best grounds for opposing paternalism. But it is also worth exploring whether philosophical pressure runs in the other direction as well - whether Mill's discussions of liberalism, in general, and paternalism, in particular, have implications for the proper articulation of principles governing expressive liberties. This perspective requires viewing Mill's defense of freedom of expression in the context of his liberalism.
Keywords: censorship, freedom of expression, liberalism, John Stuart Mill, patrnalism
JEL Classification: D69
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation