1. Kinds of Liberty:

Mill identifies two kinds of liberty: negative and positive. In its negative sense, liberty imply non- restriction in the activities of the individual.

Positively it implies area within which individuals can use their energies for creative activities and self-development.

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2. Self-Regarding and Other-Regarding Actions:

According to Mill, in case of a clash between an individual’s opinions with that of the community, the individual will be the ultimate judge unless the community can convince him without threat to violence or coercion. Moreover, he makes differentiation between self-regarding and other- regarding actions.

He favored complete freedom of conduct for the individual in the sphere of self- regarding actions unless it was dangerous to himself. With respect to ‘other-regarding actions’ Mill conceded the right of the community to coerce the individual if his conduct was contrary to its welfare.

3. Threats to Liberty:

Mill identifies threat to liberty mainly from two sources one, state laws that could restrict freedom and two, society which expresses the general but unorganized opinion. But, he accepts reasonable interference to individual liberty to prevent harm to other people.

4. Kinds of Liberty:

Mill discusses liberty broadly under three heads. They are as follow: Firstly, The liberty to thought and expression. Secondly, Liberty of tastes and pursuits.

Thirdly, Freedom of Association Mill’s discussion of the liberty of thought and expression is the most classic part of his essay ‘on liberty’. It is essential not only for the development of the individual personality but also for the health and vigour of the society. It is not necessary for its instrumentality in ensuring effective government, but is good for its intrinsic worth. Moreover, it helps in establishing the truth.


1. Mill offers an elitist conception of liberty.

For, people enslaved to customs are not free. 2. Barker labels Mill as “a prophet of an empty liberty and an abstract individual”.

3. As an ardent liberal he is more concerned with protecting individual’s private sphere than with common good as people like Green envisaged. 4. Mill’s conception of liberty fails to complement it with claims of peace and order in society. The doctrine of liberty that has become an integral part of every theory on politics is incomplete with J.S. Mill.

In fact, he has remained of the reference point for new theorization on the idea of liberty. For, he acknowledges its universal as well as developmental aspect.