John Mills’ Harm Principle
In the essay “On Liberty”, John Stuart Mills discussed his Harm Principle. He states that, “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” (Mill 239). This means that Mills believed that the government had no right to force any person to do anything, unless it would protect others from harm. If the Harm Principle holds true, then the government has no right to make citizens do things like pay taxes or make education up to the 12th grade mandatory. Doing those two things would be better for society as a whole and for the individual, but if not done, it wouldn’t cause harm to anyone, so the government has no right to force anyone to do it. In the case of pornography, there are three reasons why the Harm Principle would say that it should be legal. First, pornography is not forced on a person. If a person wants to watch porn, they can. However if a person doesn’t want to watch porn, they don’t have to. Because of the fact that pornography is optional, it in itself is not causing harm to anyone because they are doing what they want to do. Therefore, if the Harm Principle holds true, then pornography should be legal. The second reason why the Harm Principle would say that pornography should be legal is because a person is free to harm themselves all they want to. Given that pornography is harmful to those who view it, the Harm Principle states that the government will intervene if, and only if, harm is being done to someone else. A person is allowed to harm themselves all they want, so long as it is themselves alone. This would make pornography legal, because it would only be harming those who choice to watch it, and not those who don’t. The third reason why the Harm Principle would say that pornography should be legal is because there is a little protection set up by the government to keep those under the age...
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