Harm Principle Argument Analysis

Decent Essays
Harm can be understood by many individuals in a multitude of ways; however, one theory that would not agree with Donald Trump’s claim concerning the American Flag would be Mill’s “Harm Principle,” as the only harm that constitutes regulation is physical harm when it concerns our rights. Mill states that limitations cannot be placed on one’s freedom of liberty if no injury is created thus (Mill, “On Liberty” 71-75). Being offended by the burning of an American Flag, for example, would not require any form of regulation of this symbolic, since it does not cause physical injury. Mill also supports the acceptance of this symbolic speech, as a form of maximizing social utility and happiness, while lowering government coercion/control. In addition, Feinberg expands upon this utilitarian ideal to include the other forms of harm that fall within the extent of our rights, where he scrutinizes various instances of emotional/psychological harm (e.g., embarrassment, disgust, fear) to make the individual question if the harm…show more content…
Devlin claims that, as society evolves, whether desired to or not, we will also change with society. As societal practices and values begin to change over time, some people and their values will not want to follow the progressive trend but are forced to anyways. If one does not choose to adopt the new societal views, the individuals may not feel comfortable with expressing their views. Consequently, this progression would be seen, from Devlin perspective, as a form of regression, as we are losing our values. As a critique to Mill’s Harm Principle, even if it does not physically harm someone, one is still harmed by the act, since society is built and modified based on the social practices. More explicitly, conservative communitarians would view the acceptance of flag burning as a social practice of society that will lead it to fall apart if it changes the values that it was built
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