The Limitations Of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

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John Stuart Mill, a respected philosopher, laid out ideas in his time that resonate today. Among these are his principles regarding the limitations of liberty. These were given to us in his work On Liberty. Throughout the writing we are offered four different principles, being the Harm Principle, Legal Paternalism Principle, Offense Principle, and Legal Moralism. The first of these is different from the rest in that it allows the individual to live their lives to the fullest extent possible (within reason), more than the others, which all impose some sort of restriction, almost always set in place by a government. Mill argues for the Harm Principle, employing the ideas of utilitarianism in the process and a concept known as the “veil of ignorance”.…show more content…
The first is the Harm Principle. This idea is “self-regarding”, meaning that it only concerns the individual in action. Thus, whatever an individual sees as fit for them is what they should do, even if others frown upon such an action. However, one must note that whatever action is committed cannot harm another individual (this is the only exception). Next we examine the Legal Paternalism Principle. Contrary to the Harm Principle, the actions discussed by this concept are “other-regarding”, meaning that while an individual’s actions may not harm another individual, such actions may still be limited if they are believed to harm the individual in action. One example would be regarding cigarettes. Although a 15 year-old could decide for themselves whether they should smoke, the law in America prevents the minor from purchasing cigarettes, in order to protect their health. Thus, “Paternalism” is included in the principle name, as it implies that the governmental body acts as a parent in the best interests of the youth, even if the youth…show more content…
This states that whichever action allows for the highest level of welfare for individuals is what should be done. Mill continues this idea by proposing that actions that produce a higher level of pleasure should be chosen, though this pleasure may not be for the individual acting, but rather for others affected by the action. For example, while intoxication through the consumption of alcoholic beverages may be enjoyable, it would be better for an individual to instead spend that time volunteering at a kitchen to help feed the homeless. While one may prefer the former, the latter would bring about the greatest amount of pleasure. Simply put, utilitarianism is the greatest good for the greatest number, employing utility and providing its name. The concept of utilitarianism is compatible with the Harm Principle, as individuals are encouraged to perform in any way that they see fit. The Harm Principle places guidelines on utilitarianism by providing reasonable restrictions meant to prevent others from getting hurt in the process of whatever action one sees as fit for
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