John Stuart Mill Harm Principle

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Theory in itself has intrinsic value in political thought but a theory is only as strong as the case made for it and the explanation thereof. Even the most beautifully constructed theory that lacks sufficient evidence or specificity is useless in practice because a theory is worthless if it cannot be used in reality. The English economist and political philosopher John Stuart Mill theorized about government and its role in protecting liberty under the framework of utilitarianism. He makes a persuasive argument that the method to achieve the greatest utility for society to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people is through not restricting but instead promoting the liberty of individuals. John Stuart Mill makes a convincing …show more content…
This prompts the question of how much more specific does he need to get, if he put another qualifier on this principle, would that have to then be qualified and so on. Mill’s own philosophy speaks to the idea that real truths should stand up to being questioned and challenged. No, not every political theory can be highly specific and answer for every single contrived circumstance, most must be broader in nature in order to be applicable to more than one specific situation. However, this defense of the vagueness of this aspect of the argument fails in that the harm principle is not a contrived specific circumstance, it is an ambiguous phrase and carries a lot of weight depending on how it is interpreted, own way or another. The concept of harm being interpreted only as physical harm would offer more protection to the freedoms of individuals in society to pursue their own happiness, whether or not it offended or emotionally harmed another individual in society. The broader interpretation of the meaning of the word harm to include both physical and emotional harm would further restrict the individual liberties a person in society could have. The interpretation of the word “harm” can be so broad so as to severely limit the freedoms of the individual if they offend anyone at all in the society. The wide range of interpretations that can spring from the harm principle makes Mill’s argument weak as an extremely liberal society and a society repressive of individual rights can both claim to follow Mill’s theory of

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