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Contesting ConformityDemocracy and the Paradox of Political Belonging$
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Jennie C. Ikuta

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190087845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190087845.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 January 2022

Contesting Conformity through Individuality in Mill’s On Liberty

Contesting Conformity through Individuality in Mill’s On Liberty

(p.71) 3 Contesting Conformity through Individuality in Mill’s On Liberty
Contesting Conformity

Jennie C. Ikuta

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that for Mill, individuality is a solution to a problem in democratic society: conformity. Conformity is a form of social tyranny in this analysis; seeing it in this way enables us to understand its dual nature and grasp what resistance to it demands. Mill’s conception of conformity as social tyranny has both external and internal dimensions. Conformists in the social majority tyrannize others by leveraging social penalties for nonconformity in order to coerce them into publicly adhering to custom. The damage, however, is also to the conformists, who internally tyrannize themselves by undercutting their own capacity for autonomy. Resistance must be both internal and external for Mill. First, by adhering to the Harm Principle, conformists must cease tyrannizing others into conforming; second, conformists must also cease tyrannizing themselves by cultivating individuality.

Keywords:   John Stuart Mill, individuality, social tyranny, social authority, moral psychology, Harm Principle, custom

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