Alex Peek blog

List of posts    Blog archive    About


Sunday, May 28, 2023

John Stuart Mill and free speech


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was an English philosopher and economist best known for his contributions to liberalism and social theory. The rest of this post is 4 quotes from Mill about free speech from his essay On Liberty (1859).


1. "The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." (On Liberty, 1859)


2. "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still." (On Liberty, 1859)


3. "History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed for ever, it may be thrown back for centuries." (On Liberty, 1859)


4. "The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful, is the cause of half their errors." (On Liberty, 1859)