John Stuart Mill's Standpoint on Free Speech.
In continuing the class discussion on freedoms, I have decided to take a closer look at our rights as individuals to speak as we choose. Countless philosophers have tried to correct for the natural conflicts between a man's personal wants and the wants of society as a whole. In his essay, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill delivers his theory that society should not restrict freedoms unless their implementation causes direct harm to another person. In response to this argument many people have raised the question as to whether Mill's support of free speech provides an adequate defense for people who feel harmed by it. I would have to argue that indeed his defense not only provides adequate protection from harmful speech, but also potentially protects people from physical harm that could be incurred by not giving constantly and consistently this freedom.
I will now detail Mill's argument for freedom of speech. As mentioned before, in Mill's On Liberty he grants the freedom of speech when it does not cause a direct harm to others. He also suggests that in order for everyone to be fully aware of their beliefs, they must often answer those who question their beliefs. As a result society must tolerate all speech unless it does harm. Also, a person should not be allowed to profit from influencing the negative actions of others. As Mill suggests, persuading someone to gamble, would not be protected by free speech because it promotes evil, not for the intention of finding truth, but for an ulterior motive. People also should not be allowed to enter into agreements in which they sign over their liberties, such as slavery. To this issue he attaches reserve because most working agreements involve signing at least some amount of freedom away. For example, a coal miner signs away his freedom to work above ground when he makes a contract. So while some freedoms can be given, others cannot.