Mill's Harm Theory

276 Words2 Pages
John Stuart Mill, who was a British philosopher and a member of Parliament. Mills harm principle which suggests “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.” In laymen’s term this means an individual can basically do whatever he or she likes, as long as his or her action does not harm anyone else. According to the harm principle, a person has his/her own freedom over the power of society. With that in mind the Mill’s principle suggests that individuals have the freedom to believe whatever they want and posses their own opinions no matter what the majority of society believes. It’s also suggested that an individual have the freedom to practice their own interest, even these interest are seen as morally wrong by society. Now let’s discuss the harm principle. What constitutes harm? The answer can be debatable. Some may say that hurting someone’s feelings or insulting someone’s sensibility. Harm can be also defined as hurting someone by being a bad example. Clearly there are limitations to this principle. Mill believed that an individual can harm him/herself as long as he/she does not cause harm to anyone else. The controversy comes in here because a person can harm themselves which can affect other people connected to the individual. Also if a person does something which harms only him/her, someone might see that and does the same thing and end up causing harm to them. So the theory is limited and flawed. Mill supported this theory because he felt it will promote individual
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