Discussion about Freedom.
Freedom has tentatively been defined as free will; the power to act, speak or think as one deems best. However, a deeper look into the concept of freedom seems counter-intuitive to the above definition. Freedom is fundamentally ingrained within a principle of self-control or better described self-ownership. A free society presents every citizen with the legal control or ownership of their mind and body. Freedom then refers to a form of political or equal empowerment (Driver n.p.). Freedom exists better in a free society since legal rights are equally distributed and each individual has as much legal rights as possible. Since freedom involves political equality, it can only mean that each individual has as much legal rights as compatible to those of another person. This works as a restrictive force since one cannot hurt or harm another because there is no freedom of being hurt and freedom includes the legal right to not being hurt or harmed (Mills 6).
Mill’s utilitarian views seem to start from the end product or consequence of an act and finds its way to the beginning. Though his sentiments about the goodness of an action being justified by it achieving good results are generally agreeable, the point of contention becomes the relativity of good among people. The notion of the end justifies the means forms the basis for Mill’s utilitarian convictions (Baumeister 8). Nevertheless, an open society with equality of rights requires that each person ought to exercise their freedoms in as much as he/she does not harm or coerce other individuals against their will. The inclusion of common rights and political equality, therefore, places a limit on the extent that a person can wield their freedom. A non-partisan, higher authority is therefore required to ensure this ideology and even protect individuals from freedoms likely to endanger their own existence. It is a facade to assume that society would be better off with greater freedom; greater freedoms call for greater responsibility that society may not accept and uphold.
Baumeister, Roy F., et al. “Free will in consumer behavior: Self-control, ego depletion, and choice.” Journal of Consumer Psychology 18.1 (2008): 4-13.
Driver, Julia. “The History of Utilitarianism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 27 Mar. 2009, seop.illc.uva.nl/entries/utilitarianism-history/.
Mill, John Stuart. “On liberty.” A selection of his works. Macmillan Education UK, 1966. 1-147.