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What is harm?

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In On Liberty, Mill presents and argues “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. ” (9). Society has the right to use the law to regulate the conduct that consists in of “ injuring the interest of one another, or rather certain interest which, either by express legal provision or tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights’ (chp 4; 73). Society may use public opinion to monitor conduct that “may be hurtful to others or wanting in due consideration for their welfare, without going to the length of violating any of their constituted rights’ (chp 4; 73). Needless to say that, “as soon as any part of a person’s conduct affects prejudicially the interest of others, society has jurisdiction over it” (chp 4; 73). Mill obviously is implying that harming someone means injuring his or her interests. Everyone has interests they consider important and ought to be protected by law as rights. Being that Mill is a utilitarian, utility imposes that it is the “permanent interest of man as a progressive being” (10) that should be protected by law. Unfortunately, morality and immorality play a roll within the harm principle; many actions may be interpreted as immoral harming others interest but not being protected by rights.

Those, however, who want to start or continue harming themselves it will be judged to society’s likings. According to the harm principle, we should not force upon someone to stop harming him or herself. The thought might sound cynical but it’s just that we don’t coerce them. Society shouldn’t make use of the law or moral condemnation to make adjustments to someone’s behavior, unless the person causing he ...

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...ents within themselves as well. The definition protects in harming others by being a bad example, they are very unlikely to violate anyone’s rights, specific duties to the public or harm anyone in particular. Mill doesn’t believe that harm caused by being a “bad example” if it’s not harming the person the actions are not “bad”. On a lighter note, the actions that has harmful consequences for the person will teach them a lesson, which for Mill it’s a lesson well learned. My definition may still have some tweaks for the immorality of things but the first part of it, harm is anything that violates others and one’s rights is harm can apply with more affect in society because everyone has a different opinion on what is immoral or moral and to extents. The immoral part of the definition will need to start with oneself to help society determine what the people agree on.
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