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Relationship Between Society & the Individual

Society has been viewed in different ways according to the view taken of the relationship between society and the individual, and in the eighteenth century Mill represented the view that the individual and society have a tacit agreement as to what belongs to each, based on the social contract idea of Locke and Hume, while Marx sees society as a collective that evolves along a specific path he identifies as dialectical materialism.

Mill characterizes the agreement between society and the individual such that the individual receives the protection of society, and he or she owes a return for this benefit. The mere fact that one lives in society means that one is bound to observe certain conduct toward the others in society. The first element of such conduct is not to injure the interests of one another, and such interests should be considered rights; the second is that each person should bear his share of the labors and sacrifices incurred for defending society or its members. The individual whose conduct becomes such as to affect prejudicially the interests of others may be punished because at that point society has jurisdiction over such conduct. The fact that the individual has sovereignty over his own actions until those actions become prejudicial to the interests of another, however, means that society has no right to interfere in those actions until they become prejudicial to the interests of another. This assumes that all the people involved are adults and have the ordinary amount of understanding. Mill's assertion of individual liberty imposed two conditions upon the individual: the individual's conduct must not injure the interests of another, and each individual had to bear his or her share of the labors and sacrifices necessary to defend society or its members from injury or molestation. Society was justified in enforcing these two limits at all costs by the exaction of either legal or social penalties.

Marx's ...

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Relationship Between Society & the Individual. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 12:46, February 20, 2017, from