MILL'S "SIMPLE" PRINCIPLE

 

I.  [T]he sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.”(p. 16)

 

II.  [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”(p. 16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III.  “[T]here is a sphere of action in which society, as distinguished from the individual, has, if any, only an indirect interest; comprehending all that portion of a person's life and conduct which affects only himself, or, if it also affects others, only with their free, voluntary, and undeceived consent and participation.  When I say only himself, I mean directly . . . . It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological.  The liberty of expressing and publishing opinions may seem to fall under a different principle, since it belongs to that part of the conduct of an individual which concerns other people; but, being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, and resting in great part on the same reasons, is practically inseparable from it.  Secondly, the principle requires liberty of tastes and pursuits; of framing the plan of our life to suit our own character; of doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may follow; without impediment from our fellow-creatures, so long as what we do does no harm them even thought they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong.  Thirdly, from this liberty of each individual, follows the liberty, within the same limits, of combination among individuals; freedom to unite, for any purpose not involving harm to others: the persons combining being supposed to be of full age, and not forced or deceived.”(pp. 18-19)

 

JOHN STUART MILL'S UTILITARIAN DEFENSE OF RIGHTS

 

“It is proper to state that I forego any advantage which could be derived to my argument from the idea of abstract right as a thing independent of utility.”(p. 17)

 

 

The Greatest Happiness Principle:  "[A]ctions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness."(from Utilitarianism)

 

 

Mill’s Indirect Utilitarian Account of Rights:  "To have a right, then, is, I conceive, to have something which society ought to defend me in the possession of.  If the objector goes on to ask why it ought, I can give him no other reason than general utility." (from Utilitarianism)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIRECT (ACT) UTILITARIANISM VS. INDIRECT (RULE/SOCIAL PRACTICE) UTILITARIANISM

 

Act Utilitarianism requires that everyone always choose the act that they believe will maximize overall happiness.  Act utilitarianism is also called direct utilitarianism, because it recommends applying the utilitarian formula directly to each act. 

 

Mill's Rule/Social Practice Utilitarianism requires that we foster systems of laws or social practices that will maximize overall utility when people generally follow them.  Rule or social practice utilitarianism is also called indirect utilitarianism, because it does not recommend applying the utilitarian formula directly to each act. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

o

 

 

 

MILL'S THREE MAIN ARGUMENTS FOR FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION, A WEAK FOURTH ARGUMENT (AND AN IMPORTANT FIFTH)

 

Knowledge = Rational (Justified), True Belief

 

I.  TRUTH:  The Assumption of Infallibility Argument (Marcus Aurelius Argument)

        [Note that this argument also includes support for a related argument, which appears below as V.] 

 

II.  RATIONALITY:  The Rational Grounds Argument (Cicero Argument)

 

III.  BELIEF:  The Dead Beliefs Argument.  [This is a weaker argument.]

 

IV.  TRUTH AGAIN:  The Portion of the Truth Argument.

 

V.  The Potential for Abuse Argument

        Mill acknowledged this argument and set it aside at the beginning of Chapter 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mill is proposing a radically democratic version of the Hegelian idea that rational belief and knowledge are a social product, the result of the free give-and-take of opinion.  Unlike Hegel, Mill’s social epistemology is fundamentally democratic.

 

Understood as a social practice utilitarian argument for freedom of thought and discussion, what is the gap Mill’s argument in Chapter 2?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MILL’S SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY AND THE “FREE GIVE-AND-TAKE OF OPINION” CONCEPTION OF RATIONAL BELIEF

 

“There is the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation.”(Chap. 2, p. 26)

 

What do Mill’s arguments apply to?

        All these arguments are arguments apply to statements with propositional content (can be true or false).  They are based on what has been called a “free market of ideas” rationale.  Mill extends the discussion to argue against legal restrictions on statements with only expressive content—“invective, sarcasm, personality, and the like”—on pp. 61-63.

 

        Note that the free market of ideas rationale only applies to conscientious speech—that is, speech in which one expresses what one believes to be true. 

 

        There are other types of speech that do not get support from Mill’s arguments or from the underlying rationale.  What are they?

 

Is Mill’s right to freedom of discussion absolute?

 

 

CHAPTER 3:  MILL'S TWO MAIN ARGUMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALITY

 

I.  The Principal Ingredient of Human Happiness Argument.  This is an a priori argument, justifying individuality by making it a necessary condition for human happiness.

 

II.  The Principal Ingredient of Social Progress Argument.  This is an empirical argument, justifying individuality by the indirect effects of people who are individualistic on people who are not individualistic.  Mill gives this argument an elitist feel.  Hayek will give a non-elitist version of the argument and extend it to economic progress. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MILL ON PATERNALISM

 

        Legal Paternalism refers to laws that are paternalistic.

 

        A law is paternalistic just in case it is enacted to promote the good of the target audience by overruling their own judgment about what is good for them.  So what makes a law paternalistic is the rationale for the law.

 

1.  Distinguish paternalistic rationales from Collective Action Problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEMS

 

I.  Terminology

 

1.  INDIVIDUALISTICALLY RATIONAL (IR) = to Maximize One's Expected Return (Total Expected Benefits Less Total Expected Costs).  This sense of rationality is the twentieth-century development of the concept of INSTRUMENTAL RATIONALITY.  It is the notion of rationality that is employed in economics and the other social sciences.  (Note that to be INDIVIDUALISTICALLY RATIONAL does not require that one be an egoist.)

 

2.  COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEM = A situation in which everyone (in a given group) has a choice between two alternatives and where, if everyone involved chooses the alternative act that is Individualistically Rational (IR), the outcome will be worse for everyone involved, in their own estimation, than it would be if they were all to choose the other alternative (i.e., than it would be if they were all to choose the alternative that is not IR).

 

        By convention, in any Collective Action Problem, the economically rational alternative is referred to as "Defection" ("D"); and the economically irrational alternative is referred to as "Cooperation" ("C").

 

 

 

MATRIX REPRESENTATION OF THE FORM OF A COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEM

 

 

                                           Everyone else   

 

 

Cooperates

(C)      

 

Defects

(D)

 

I Cooperate

(C)

 

+100,

  +100

 

-101,

  -99.9

 

I Defect (D)

 

+101,

  +99.9

 

-100,

  -100

 

 

Matrix 2.  A Collective Action Problem Involving A Decision to Cooperate (C) or Defect (D).

 

 

        FREERIDING.  In a Collective Action Problem in which most agents choose to Cooperate, Defectors are referred to as FREERIDERS, because they benefit from the Cooperation of others, but are unwilling to reciprocate Cooperation. 

 

 

 

 

 

        Compare Mill's exception for positive acts "to bear his fair share in the common defence, or in any other joint work necessary to the interest of the society of which he enjoys the protection"(17) and his discussion of a secular justification for Sabbatarian legislation that guarantees the benefits of a six-day work week to all by prohibiting a seven-day work week.  What other laws does this sort of justification apply to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  What is Mill's main argument for freedom from legal paternalism? 

 

KEY:  the claim of first-person authority (Talbott's name for it):  Mill’s statement:  “He is the person most interested in his own well-being, the interest which any other person, except in cases of strong personal attachment, can have in it, is trifling, compared with that which he himself has .  .  . with respect to his own feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by anyone else”(86-87).  

 

Talbott’s Restatement:  Given the appropriate background conditions (including guarantees of freedom of thought and discussion and freedom of the press) normal, adult human beings are reliable judges of their own good; and more reliable than other people or governments.

 

Consider Mill's examples of unjustified legal paternalism:.  alcohol prohibitions (Maine Law), opium prohibition, prohibition on sale of poisons, prohibition on Mormon polygamy.

 

3.  What about the indirect effects on others?

 

4.  Exceptions:

        (a) the dangerous bridge

        (b) offenses against decency

        (b) slavery contracts

WHY MILL IS NOT A LIBERTARIAN

 

Justified government coercion that is an exception to the Harm Principle:

 

(1) Collective action problems:  “to bear his fair share in the common defence, or in any other joint work necessary to the interest of society of which he enjoys the protection” (17); Sabbatarian legislation (102); sanitary precautions, or arrangements to protect work-people employed in dangerous occupations”(108).

 

(2) Economic regulation:  “Trade is a social act”(107).  [This is actually just another category of collective action problems.]

 

(3 ) Positive duties:  for example, “to give evidence in a court of justice”(17)  and “certain acts of individual  beneficence”(17).

 

(4) Prohibition of slavery contracts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAYEK'S NON-ELITIST ACCOUNT OF THE RELATION BETWEEN FREEDOM AND PROGRESS

 

Freedom = lack of coercion

 

What is coercion?

(Fraud and deception included for the same reasons.)

 

What is in Hayek's protected sphere?

(What about Thomson's claims against, murder, physical and psychological impairment, etc.?)

 

For Hayek, a free society = one that minimizes coercion, broadly understood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DESCRIPTIVE HAYEK VS. NORMATIVE HAYEK

 

The Descriptive Hayek is just describing an irresistible social process of move toward free societies and progress.

 

Normative Hayek wants to justify a free society by it contribution to progress.

 

Does Normative Hayek try to justify a free society directly?

 

Normative Hayek's indirect justification: 

 

A free society is essential for progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS PROGRESS?

 

Progress = Growth of Civilization

 

Growth of Civilization = Growth of Knowledge

 

Therefore, Progress = Growth of Knowledge

 

What does Hayek mean by Knowledge? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sen's Work on How Rights Prevent Famines

 

Do food shortages by themselves cause famines?

 

Sen's surprising answer:  No.  Food shortages don't cause famines in societies with:

(1) freedom of the press and freedom of expression;

(2) a multi-party democracy with an active opposition.