In this work, Mill reflects on the struggle between liberty and authority and defends the view that “the 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.” He questions attempts to limit freedom of conscience and religion, freedom to pursue one’s own interests, and freedom to unite, and he defends a liberal political and social order in which there is considerable room for personal development and freedom of association.
This new Broadview Edition demonstrates the ways in which Mill’s intellectual landscape differed markedly from our own, while also drawing attention to the reasons why the work remains relevant and essential reading in the present day. Appendices include antecedents to Mill’s work, critical discussions by his contemporaries, and related writings by Mill.
Please note: Broadview offers two separate editions of On Liberty. The Kahn edition is particularly relevant to readers who are interested in how the work is situated in the history of political philosophy, whereas the Alexander edition is recommended to those most interested in the work’s Victorian literary and social contexts.
“The old threats to individual liberty have not disappeared, and new ones continue to emerge. J.S. Mill’s On Liberty remains an essential text for those seeking to understand them and how to deal with them. This outstanding edition provides a clear and insightful introduction, and puts Mill’s essay into historical and contemporary context with judiciously chosen excerpts from other texts. Highly recommended for any intelligent reader, and an ideal focus for a seminar.” — Roger Crisp, St Anne’s College, Oxford
“Kahn offers a concise general introduction to this new edition of Mill’s ‘great little essay.’ … This edition encourages students to investigate Mill’s doctrine and, hopefully, to develop an appreciation of its far-reaching implications for social policy.” — Jonathan M. Riley, Tulane University