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Why Mill would love today

April 15, 2011

                 Mill had no idea this day was coming.  A day in which opinions were not only spoken out between a smaller group, but a day in which millions of people can voice their opinions for all people to see.  This sensation was caused by the internet, and has expanded dramatically over recent years.  The craze of Facebook, twitter, YouTube, and blog posts have allowed the average person to say whatever they want, whenever they want, and for whomever to read.  Mill could not have asked for anything more as he argued that the expression of opinion should not be limited.  In today’s society no one is suppressing the right and wrong opinions that are out there for the entire world to see, make judgments, and learn from. 

                Mill believed was that no man is infallible have no authority in deciding an issue for everyone.  “The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it… he has a right to think his judgment better than that of any person, or any multitude, who have not gone through a similar process”. (On Liberty Chapter II, 602)  According to Mill, all those who publish their opinions on the internet, and heed the advice of the people who responded, can say that they are more right than someone who has not heard opinions of others.   For example, the celebrity blogger Perez Hilton is considered wise Mill because he posts his opinions for anyone to respond and voice his/her opinion back.    Everyone has the right to come up with their own judgment even if they may be wrong.  Perez might be considered wrong by most of America, but he is acting on his “conscientious conviction” which makes him more right than most of society. 

                The internet allows for people to state their opinion that would have been persecuted in history.  Mill argued that people have been persecuted for holding true beliefs, i.e. Jesus Christ.  The truth is no longer persecuted, in an age in which literally anything can be posted online.  Of course, no one is posting online anything nearly as worthy as what Jesus Christ preached, but many people have been quite influential online.  For example, Arianna Huffington created the site which allows millions of people to search for news and commentary on world events.  The site allows for many opinionated posts and comments, many of them not favoring what our government is doing.  Years ago, many of these posts would be considered rebellious, and the writers could be persecuted.  We are now living in a time in which all opinions are heard without the threat of persecution. 

                This is Mill’s ideal age.  Everyone is learning from everyone else’s opinions.  This blog could not be more of an indicator of this.  If a blog post is incorrect, then many people comment and try to find the truth in the blog.  If the blog is correct, than people reinforce the true opinion so that it is not lost.  Whether right or wrong, the truth will eventually come up through discussion and debate of the issue posted. 

Here is a video that is an example of people giving their opinions online that anyone can see and discuss without fear of persecution. 

Wootton, David. Modern Political Thought Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. 2nd. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc, 2008. 9-52. Print.

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