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Comparative Essay on Rousseau′s Social Contract and Mill′s On Liberty (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

Rousseau′s Social Contract Mill′s On Liberty Write a comparative essay and show how the authors answer the following questions: 1. What is the fundamental basis for the belief in liberty? 2. In what ways is liberty useful and beneficial? 3. What are the arguments against illegitimate restrictions on liberty? 4. What is the relationship between government and liberty? 5. What is the legitimate basis for limiting liberty? Also, comment on how the works reflect the times and places in which they were written. Finally, give your evaluation of the works, i.e., your agreement or disagreement with them.

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Content:


On Liberty
1. What is the fundamental basis for the belief in liberty?
Liberty, as a political concept, entails the unrestrained freedom to do as one pleases. Mills and Rousseau differ significantly on liberty and this is a subject of interest in various disciplines. According to Mills, the fundamental belief in liberty is working towards a system that grants unrestrained freedom for everyone to do as they please. In On Liberty, Mills bases this claim on the utilitarian principle ‘summon bonum’, which basically refers to the greater good. On the other hand, Rousseau takes a different approach. He explains that people cannot always be free to do as they please because they trade their liberty in exchange for protection in the social contract between them and the state.
2. In what ways is liberty useful and beneficial?
Mills believed that liberty is beneficial in that it helps protect fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the constitution. This way, an individual is free to pursue social mobility without the restraints of his right and freedom to do so. Equally, liberty is a democratic principle of social justice. When a government protects the civil liberties of the people, it empowers them all without exception or favour. Rousseau also believed that liberty is beneficial but expressed the need to regulate it in the face of extenuating circumstances such as national security concerns.
3. What are the arguments against illegitimate restrictions on liberty?
Liberty is one of the most contested principles of a democracy. There exists opinionated fallout among scholars and politicians on this topic especially as it appertains to restrictions of individual liberties. Mills argues strongly against restricting people’s liberties claiming it is a constitutional infringement. In support of this claim, many believe that violation of citizens’ fundamental rights is abuse of government power, which is a slippery slope. In addition, restriction to liberty is a constraint to the pursuit of happiness and self-determination. People will not be able to pursue their careers, ambition, or social mobility or, at least, their chances to do so will be significantly hindered.
4. What is the relationship between government and liberty?
Rousseau talks of a social contract in which citizens entrust their security on the government but have to surrender their liberty in exchange for protection. The social contract describes the relationship between government and liberty. Mills talks of the harm principle where he believes it is the government’s mandate to ensure that no harm comes to its citizens. The role of the government here is to ensure that citizens enjoy their liberty without infringement.
5. What is the legitimate basis for limiting liberty?
In the social contract theory, Rousseau points out that the state has monopoly over legitimate use of force. This power is exercised during extenuating circumstances in which national security is conce

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