Liberalism on Rights - Dictionary of Arguments
Gaus I 109
Rights/Liberalism/Gaus: Mill(1) advances a radical liberal theory of political right: coercion - which includes social pressure intended to discourage any act A - must be justified on the grounds that A constitutes a harm to others, and the coercion is intended to prevent that harm (...). A good deal of recent liberal theory has been devoted to explicating this harm principle, and whether it really can serve as the sole ground for justified coercion. >Rights/Mill.
One dispute concerns whether Mill intends the principle to identify a set of acts- those that do not directly harm others - that are immune from social coercion (see Riley, 1998(2): 93ff), or whether the principle is best interpreted as identifying a set of reasons– harm to others – that can justify coercion (Ten, 1980(3): 50–7; Gaus, 1999(4): 106–13). The classic work on the harm principle, and more generally on this Millian approach to political justice, is Joel Feinberg’s masterful four-volume The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law (1984–90)(5). >Mill/Feinberg.
1. Mill, John Stuart (1963a) On Liberty. In J. M. Robson, ed., The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, vol. XVIII, 213–301. ch. 1, para. 9.
2. Riley, Jonathan (1998) Routledge GuideBook to Mill on Liberty. London: Routledge.
3. Ten, C. L. (1980) Mill on Liberty. Oxford: Clarendon. Vallentyne, Peter, ed. (1991) Contractarianism and Rational Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
4. Gaus, Gerald F. (1999) Social Philosophy. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.
5. Feinberg 1984-90
- Feinberg, Joel (1984) The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law. Vol. I, Harm to Others. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Feinberg, Joel (1985) The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law. Vol. II, Offense to Others. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Feinberg, Joel (1986) The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law. Vol. III, Harm to Self. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Feinberg, Joel (1990) The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law. Vol. IV, Harmless Wrongdoing. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gerald F. Gaus
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004