The maxims are, first, that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, persuasion, and avoidance by other people if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express its dislike or disapprobation of his conduct. Secondly, that for such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and may be subjected either to social or to legal punishment, if society is of opinion that the one or the other is requisite for its protection.
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Source Notes: Source: JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty, ed. David Spitz, chapter 5, p. 87 . Originally published in 1859.
John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 May 8, 1873), an English philosopher and political economist, was an influential classical liberal thinker of the 19th century. He was an advocate of utilitarianism, the ethical theory first proposed by his godfather Jeremy Bentham.