Political Theory Notes for Political Theory and Thoughts Notes

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Views on liberty

  1. Political and social development of the state depends on the spirit of the people. Liberty should be exercised by the public spirited and reasonable people.

  2. Only the rational man could exercise liberty which is necessary for his personality development, happiness, peace and satisfaction. Child, irrational, dependent, lunatics are debarred from his liberty.

  3. J. S. Mill divides liberty on two divisions

    • Liberty of expression
    • Liberty of action

1. Liberty of expression

State should remove obstacles and take positive steps for the wellbeing of the large majority providing opportunities in the exercise of liberty of expression of an individual, group, community, etc.

2. Liberty of action

  • Self regarding action
  • Others regarding action

In the case of former, according to him, ‘an individual is sovereign over himself, over his own body and mind’. But he should be reasonable. The state interference in individual’s liberty of action, according to Mill, is justified if it does harm to others, otherwise no interference by the state.

In others regarding action, an individual could move campaign especially on the community and public based action of welfarism, such as for compulsory education, health factors such as eye donation, blood donation, limiting the right of inheritance, factory legislation, in case of child care, and control of monopoly by the state attaching less sanctity to landed property, etc.

State should not interfere if such action has not interfered individual liberty.

Mill favored freedom of thought, speech and action.

Mill emphasizes the importance of trained leader in politics.

Mill believed in democracy as the best form of government and mentioned the need of proportional representation.

Mill believed in toleration of ideas.


  • Excessive individual liberty.
  • It is not natural that the state cannot interfere individual liberty.
  • Mill is most liberal and democratic.

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