John Stuart Mill and the "marketplace of ideas"

by Jill Gordon
Social Theory and Practice ()
  • ISSN: 0037-802X


The expression "the marketplace of ideas" is often used in reference to Mill's views on freedom of thought and speech in On Liberty, but the metaphor does not come from Mill's work, nor is it consistent with his position. A real marketplace of ideas would create what Mill warns us against: the prevalence of the views of the most powerful and/or the most numerous. From a U.S. perspective, I explore Mill's suggestion to "countenance and encourage" minority views, and I compare Mill's particular type of liberalism with contemporary U.S. advocacy of market models for our political lives.

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