In arguing for the repeal of the limiting order, Milton argues the Magistrates must take into consideration the character of the men who imposed the first restrictions, the consequences of reading in general on the populace, the inability of the new law to prevent the types of thought that it was intended to prevent and that such a law will only serve to discourage learning of any kind within the realm, having a tremendous impact on the civil and religious development of the citizenry. He writes in “Def 2” that there are “three species of liberty which are essential to the happiness of social life – religious, domestic, and civil”, all three of which can be found in the arguments within Areopagitica.
According to Milton, civil liberty cannot be found in a nation or community that exists without strife or problems. Instead, the “utmost bound of civil liberty … that wise men look for” (4) is a place in which individuals feel confident that they can step forward to voice their complaints, have them listened to and carefully considered by those in authority and then quickly resolved to the satisfaction of the greatest possible good. Authority figures, for their part, increase their status when they are seen to listen to these concerns and take judicious and fair action on them, enabling them to rule justly and help repair social ills in other parts of the country. This becomes a domino effect of benefit for the entire state as officials and citizenry both begin to take more active, responsible roles in their communities. In other words, civil liberty depends upon a cyclical system in which the public is able to express their grievances to the Magistrates and the Magistrates are seen to respond.
Central to this ability of the nation to communicate among the various levels of its populace is an ability to freely disseminate information, including the thoughts and opinions of philosophers and theologians, those for and those against the current systems in place. . .