The Harm Principle of John Stuart Mill

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The Harm Principle of John Stuart Mill

For John Stuart Mill, he was a strong believer in utilitarianism. As he says in his essay, “...Liberty consists in doing what one desires.” (393). He believed that whatever may make somebody happy is what they should be allowed to do, as long as it did not infringe on anybody else's rights in the process of practicing. This is the harm principle. Mill came up with a principle that states that a person should be lawfully allowed to do literally anything that they see fit, as long as it does not affect anybody else negatively. Therefore, Mill argues against law paternalism, trying to protect individual rights to make that individual happywithout the government's interference.

The main topic of Mill's argument is the Harm Principle. This states that a person can partake in any activity that they desire as long as it does not harm anybody else. The activity could be horribly immoral, or life-threatening to the partaker, but if they think that it will make them happy, then so be it, so long as it does not affect any innocent, unwilling others. Examples could include driving without a seatbelt because it makes the driver or passenger more comfortable to not be constrained, to participate in recreational drug activities because it is fun and makes that person feel good, or to marry the same sex, because that person would like to be able to commit themself to the one they love, and knowing that they have that title of marriage makes them happy. The Harm Principle basically just says to do whatever a person may find desirable, without the government's interference, just do not violate anyone else's liberties in the process.

Mill argues two main points in his essay, regarding the harm principle. The first point is that everybody should have the freedom to live life the way they want. This freedom enhances that person's ability to make good decisions on their own, and in turn have a good life. Allowing people to...
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