Classical Texts Discussions Questions
We will discuss thirteen classical texts of political philosophy as found in our Political
Philosophy textbook. These texts will be the subject of the possible essay questions on the
two course exams. Before each class, please write responses to the provided questions on a
separate piecels) of paper (responses must be typed). I will collect these responses at the end
of class on each of our classical text lecture days- Completion of these questions will comprise
your 20 percent participation grade for the course. Late responses will not be accepted. If you
will be absent on the due-day, you may email me the responses; however, you must do so
Responses for each question must be at least two sentences long; you are welcome (but not
required} to write more. The more you write, the better prepared you will be for the exam
Classical Text it 3 Liberty
J.S. Mill’s “On Liberty” (1859)
1. Why is government tyranny still possible in democracies, for Mill?
2. In addition to tyranny of the majority, what is a second type of democratic tyranny,
according to Mill? Why is this type of tyranny even more dangerous?
3. Mill argues that in order to protect liberty from the threats of democratic tyranny, legal
protections, or rights, must be granted to protect individual liberty in three regions of
human life: what are these three regions?
4. Having defined liberty, Mill spends most of the essay defending liberty’s value and why
it is worth protecting. What type of moral defense of liberty does Mill advance? For
example, why is it morally important to protect freedom of conscience, opinion, and
expression? Why does Mill strongly oppose censorship?
5. Why is it morally important to protect freedoms of taste and pursuits of living, especially
the freedom to pursue strange and eccentric “experiments in living”, for Mill?
6. According to Mill, in what circumstance is government limitation on liberty justified? Is
the state justified in requiring individuals to perform positive acts, like pay taxes? Why?