‘Dying for Assistance’ - Euthanasia according to Mill


  • Rebecca Wallace Northumbria University




The term ‘liberty’ is open to several different interpretations. In a legal context it means freedom from restraint, i.e. the freedom to make choices for one’s self without unwelcome interference. Many people crave it, wars have been fought over it, yet today it would appear there is no universal agreement on what acts the individual should be ‘free’ to carry out, and on those which should be controlled or even prohibited altogether. Liberty itself, is controlled largely by society, made up of both the public and government. Rightly or wrongly society exercises a high degree of control over all individuals whom live within its parameters. It is not disputed that society requires governance to provide stability and protection to individuals and their rights, this has been proven throughout history. That said, one is left wondering what the appropriate limit on this governance should be. One interesting theory was introduced by the work of John Stuart Mill, a British Philosopher in the 19th century. Mill is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism. In actual fact, Mill’s principle would appear particularly relevant at present, that is, today’s society works to promote freedom of expression, individuality and freedom of choice whilst at the same time, it prohibits acts which many, would assert, individuals should be free to perform. Faced with these facts, one cannot help but ask the all-important question which Mill himself once asked… “What, then, is the rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself?”