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Rick Roderick on John Stuart Mill on Liberty [full length]

Published by Admin in Modern Philosophy
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This video is 4th in the 8-part lecture series Philosophy and Human Values (1990).Thanks to rickroderick.org for making this available. I'm merely interested in redistributing to anyone who might enjoy and benefit.I. Another objection to Kant is the question of what happens when you are trying to will a universal principle in a situation when two principles are good and yet you cannot do them both.A. It is not just right or wrong. You must chose the one that leads to the best results.B. In an embodied context it may not do a bit of good to know the rule, illustrating that the moral life is full of ambiguity.II. Freedom in the 19th Century is addressed by Mill's commentary on liberty.A. Mill tries to show where the grounds are for the government's interference: with our liberty, a question of legitimacy, not of power.B. The harm principle posits that the only legitimate ground for social coercion is to prevent harm to others. Once you give this power up, it is over.C. The offense principle, which Mill would not support, posits society has a legitimate right to socially coerce to prevent "offending" others. Such offense undermines the moral tone of society.D. One must make a distinction between self-regarding actions and other-regarding actions in the harm principle. (Some argue that there is no such thing as a self-regarding action.)E. The principle of paternalism is that we can interfere with people for their own good.F. An added dimensions of the harm principle: social coercion can be used if decisions are encumbered by craziness, drunkeness of if freedoms of others are interfered with.III. There are limitations to Mill's account of freedom.A. It is an account of "negative freedom" only, a freedom from constraint.B. He says nothing about positive freedom to act.IV. Hegel argues that freedom is the meaning and the point of human history in general: Overcoming obstacles is gaining freedom.A. The challenge of freedom is to find the new boundaries and then to figure out how to break them down.B. Marx wrote that philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.

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