Philosophy 1305F/G Study Guide - John Stuart Mill, Harm Principle, On Liberty

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Published on 12 Apr 2013
School
Western University
Department
Philosophy
Course
Philosophy 1305F/G
Professor
Page:
of 3
Philosophy March 25
Freedom of Speech: John Stuart Mill- On Liberty, page 494
Limits of freedom- privacy, equality
In political philosophy, debate on whether it even makes sense that humans
have freedom of speech
No “absolute” sense of freedom
Even having a conversation with another human being requires
constraints on freedom
Human beings limit their freedom somewhat in regular dialogue, give
the other person an option to say something
Nobody is infallible or in possession of full truth all of the time
Even if we are in possession of truth, that doesn’t necessarily mean
that we won’t find ourselves in collision with views contrary to what
we believe
Mill: it is always good to find yourself confronted with someone whether
their views are true or false
The Harm Principle
There are limits on freedom
How do we determine what those limits should be?
Or should there be none?
The harm principle constitutes
the limit on freedom
What kinds of speech are harmful?
Do you have the right to say things that offend others?
Harm and Pornography
Consenting adults
Children*
Children are arguably harmed by pornography
Should not have pornography that children are able to view or involve
children
Paternalism
Laws against child pornography
It is illegal
Trying to protect children
Social conservatives
Want to make the case that the state paternalistically should legislate
to protect adults from pornography as well
Argue that pornography is bad to religious and family values
Say it should be disallowed
Example- the catholic church
Usually involves putting limits on freedom
Does not bring harm to other people, but brings harm to yourself
Example: drinking, drugs
Viewing pornography also brings harm to yourself (social
conservatives)
The state should legislate accordingly to prevent harm against
yourself
There is a distinction between “Erotica” and “Porn”- Mackinnon
What is the difference between?
Erotica is not harmful, it is a good thing
Porn is harmful
For a different reason than social conservatives would think. They
would probably even think that erotica is harmful. Not good for
family values
The feminists are in agreement with the social conservatives
Feminism- Mackinnon and Dworkin
You do not have the freedom to take away someone else’s freedom-
Libertarians
John Stuart Mills Harm Principle- Page 493
Harm to others
Agrees that paternalism is okay if there is harm being done to others
Harm to myself
Should be allowed.
Is wearing a seatbelt a violation of your freedom?
Laws against marijuana
Mill is all for freedom of speech
Page 495
Gives the utility argument for why we should not rob people of
freedom of their expression
“They are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. If
wrong they lose, what is almost as great a benefit”
Mackinnon suggests that pornography harms us.

Document Summary

Freedom of speech: john stuart mill- on liberty, page 494. In political philosophy, debate on whether it even makes sense that humans have freedom of speech. Even having a conversation with another human being requires constraints on freedom. Human beings limit their freedom somewhat in regular dialogue, give the other person an option to say something. Nobody is infallible or in possession of full truth all of the time. Even if we are in possession of truth, that doesn"t necessarily mean that we won"t find ourselves in collision with views contrary to what we believe. Mill: it is always good to find yourself confronted with someone whether their views are true or false. The harm principle constitutes the limit on freedom. Should not have pornography that children are able to view or involve children. Want to make the case that the state paternalistically should legislate to protect adults from pornography as well.