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On Liberty (Rethinking the Western Tradition) Paperback – January 11, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0300096101 ISBN-10: 0300096100

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Product Details

  • Series: Rethinking the Western Tradition
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300096100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300096101
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


. . . . Mill is part of the air we breathe. . . . His treatise. . . . deserves attention. -- (Michael Potemra, National Review)

About the Author

David Bromwich is Housum Professor of English at Yale University. George Kateb is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. Jean Bethke Elshtain is Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago. Owen Fiss is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University. Richard Posner is a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Jeremy Waldron is Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I ihave read Mill's On Liberty three times now. The Bromwich and Kateb version is the most helpful, as we not only get to read Mill's essay, but 6 supplementary essays - two "introductions" and four sometimes critical "reinterpretations" by respected theorists.

Milll's basic point is simple: people should be left free to think and do as they please unless what they are doing causes actual harm to others. Mill's essay is spent both giving reasons for this principle, and exlporing what the principle means in practice.

He offers a plurality of reasons for his libertarian ideas, some utilitarian in nature and some based on (what some might call) natural law. Not only does freedom of action and thought encourage innnovation, keep public discussion vigorous, and lead to a more effective social network than government incursion, but people just-plain prefer directing their own lives to being directed from outside.

Mill gets into sticky territory, however, when he talks about the libertarian principle in concrete terms, as his distinction between what is private and what is public is often less clear than he might want. Should persons be free to tell others to do harm to themselves? Yes. Should parents be free not to educate their children? No. Should "vice-merchants" like bars, gambling parlors, and pornographers be free to conduct business without heavy government regulation? No. Should people be free to marry a plurality of spouses? If mormon, yes. If British, no.

My biggest criticism - and a criticism offered in Richard Posner and Jeane Bethke Elshtain's essays - is that Mill is all over the map when his principle is "put to the real world" because the distinction between public and private is just-plain fuzzy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AMS on February 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book is in great condition and arrived promptly. I have not had a chance to actually read the book yet (it is for a class I am taking).
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