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© Michael Lacewing Plato and Mill on the individual and society Michael Lacewing

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1 © Michael Lacewing Plato and Mill on the individual and society Michael Lacewing

2 The Harm (aka Liberty) Principle Negative liberty: ‘the only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way’ ‘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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.’

3 Social tyranny Tyranny is no longer the rulers dominating the people, because the people rule. But the people who rule, even in a democracy, are not the people who are ruled: there is a majority and minority. The new danger is tyranny of the majority.

4 Social tyranny and individuality Through socially-endorsed preferences and ways of living, disapproval and offence, ‘it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself’.

5 The contribution of individuality Individual utility: autonomy is a key component of happiness. Social utility: the ‘experiments of living’ individuals conduct are –A means of discovering (genius) and proving the worth of different modes of living –Genius also needed for good government, or mediocrity will dominate –No one life suits everyone –Individuals have stronger characters, which contribute energy to society –Originality avoids stagnation

6 Plato’s perfect state The perfect state has all the virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice The origin of the state is our inability to be self-sufficient. We are naturally disposed to different tasks, so we need a division of labour. To defend the state, we need ‘guardians’, distinct from farmers and traders. Good government needs good leaders who know what is good for the state as a whole.

7 The virtues in the state Philosopher-rulers have wisdom. Guardians have courage. Everyone has temperance, in accepting this structure. Justice is whatever remains - viz. that everyone should do their job, contributing to overall functioning. Philosopher-rulers: ‘society will never be properly governed… by the uneducated, who have no knowledge of the truth’

8 Totalitarianism? Consent: Everyone will recognize the rationality of the structure, and freely give consent to it. But is the organization in each individuals’ interests? Does it privilege anyone? Interpretation 1: my interests lie solely in fulfilling my social function –Obj.: Plato has an idea of individual happiness that is distinct from this

9 Totalitarianism? Interpretation 2: individuals pursue their own happiness, out of which the good state arises –Plato is concerned with good of the state over and above individual happiness Interpretation 3: individuals must be educated to find their happiness in the state –Plato allows rulers to tell a lie/myth to bind people to the state

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