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Legal Enforcement Of Moral Standards Notes

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Legal Enforcement of Moral Standards

FHS 2012


1. On Liberty

The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering w/liberty of any action is self protection. The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, moral or physical, isn't a sufficient warrant & he can't rightfully be compelled to do/be prevented from doing something b/c it's better for him/will make him happier/others consider it a better thing to do. These are good reasons for reasoning w/him or persuading, but not compelling him/causing him evil if he chooses not to listen. The only part of conduct for which anyone is amenable to society is that concerning others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is as of right absolute. Over himself, individual is sovereign (doesn't apply to kids, barbarians).

People should be able to do different things - society isn't to be made of people doing the same thing

Human liberty = 3 parts a) Inward domain of conscience - liberty of thought & feeling, absolute freedom of opinion & sentiment b) Liberty of tastes & pursuits - framing the plan of life to suit your character, doing as we like, subject to consequences which follow, w/out impediment from fellow creatures, as long as we don't harm them c) Liberty within same limits of combination of individuals - freedom to unite, for any purpose, not involving harm to others No society where these aren't respected is free, regardless of form of govt. - must be free absolutely &
unqualifiedly. The only freedom deserving of its name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we don't deprive others/impede their efforts. Each is the proper guardian of own health: mental, bodily & spiritual.

2. On Limits of Authority

Individual should seize of that part which is chiefly for his own interest & society of that which is chiefly for its interest

Although soc isn't founded on contract, everyone who receives its protection owes it a duty to: a) observe certain line of conduct by not injuring interests of others; and b) bear his own share, to be fixed on some equitable principle of the labours & sacrifices incurred for defending soc/its members from injury.

These two conditions society can enforce at all costs but, aside of them, the offender may only be punished by opinion only, not by law. As soon as any part of individual's conduct affects prejudicially interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it ? questions of general welfare then come into consideration. But until then, there's no room for such questions & individual should have perfect freedom, legal & social, to do the act & stand the consequences.

Doctrine isn't one of selfish indifference - it doesn't pretend that human beings have no business w/each other's conduct in life & shouldn't concern themselves w/each other's well-being. They owe each other duty to help to distinguish the better from the worse & encourage to choose the former, and should always stimulate each other to do good things but neither is warranted in saying to another he won't do w/his life for his own benefit as he chooses to.

The interest which anyone can have in other's well being is trifling when compared to his own & the interest which soc has in him individually, outside of his conduct towards others, is fractional & indirect. So its interference to overrule his judgment in private matters must be grounded on general presumptions which may be wrong or be misapplied to individual cases. Considerations to aid the individual's judgment & exhortations to strengthen his will may be offered by others but he's the final judge - all errors which he may commit are far outweighed by evil of allowing others to constrain him to what they deem to be good. This doesn't mean feelings w/which a person is regarded by others ought not to be affected by his deficiencies - he may be seeking to avoid unfavourable judgment by others, so that here it may be doing him a favour to warn him his act isn't desirable. But not compel him to act otherwise...

Distinguish: a) Feelings we have towards people who displease us b) Individual who infringes the rules necessary for protection of society & where consequences fall upon it - society, as protector, must retaliate that individual & inflict pain upon him for purposes of sufficiently severe punishment
= Contra argument - no person is entirely isolated being & it's impossible for him to do anything seriously harmful/permanently hurtful to himself w/out mischief reaching at least those near to him & often those beyond. If he deteriorates his bodily or mental faculties, he not only brings evil upon all who depend on him for some portion of their happiness but disqualifies him from rendering services which he owes to fellow human beings. He may also injure others by his example (misleading/corrupting their conduct) & ought to be compelled to control himself for their sake. Even where the consequences can be confined to individual, society ought not to abandon seeking to prevent conduct condemned from beginning of time - drunkenness, gambling, uncleanliness
- things which experience has shown not to be useful/suitable for any person's individuality.

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