John Stuart Mill's Argument Analysis
The harm principle ensures that self-ruling and self-governance is implemented in society to the extent that it does not damage people in the process. In order to better understand the harm principle, we must take a deeper look into Mill’s theoretical approach of the concept. He first beings with distinguishing a difference between what is harm and a mere offence (Brink 2007, ch.3.6, para. 2). Harm is an action that is “injurious or set[s] back important interest[s] of particular people, interests in which they have rights,” whereas a mere offence is something that Mill’s does not see as a defence under the harm principle (Brink 2007, ch.3.6, para. 2). The second concept beneath the harm principle is that this principle is imposed to prevent someone from trying to cause harm in a certain way. It can become difficult trying to guard individuals from harm, therefore, allowing for citizens to self-govern themselves so they can determine what is safe and harmful. From what we can understand, the harm principle regulates a relationship between individuals and the government, however Mill’s wants this theory to dig deeper and apply its foundation within the family (Brink 2007, ch.3.6). The relationship between individuals and the government is merely based on the idea of self-ruling and self-governance. In terms of the family, Mill’s wants there to be a harm free relationship between husbands, wives, and their children so that the actions taken by family members does not cause harm on others in that family. Mill’s then focuses on non-consensual harm where he discusses that it is applied when “one has knowingly and willing risked something harmful, one cannot legitimately complain when that harm comes home to roost” (Brink 2007, ch.3.6, para.5).