Ripstein “Beyond the Harm Principle”

Ripstein is openly against Mill’s harm principle which he expounds upon in “On Liberty.” Ripstein’s clear and driven aim is to argue that individual sovereignty requires you to abandon the harm principle. Ripstein furthers his take on Mill by adding that the individual has the power, but he’s wrong to suggest that it can be analogous with the “prevention of harm.” Some people that are behind the harm principle say it contrasts legal mishaps (that have been identified as so by the individual). Joel Feinberg talks about harm is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for criminalization. I made a connection to that because unlike most of this reading, I know what that means! I just got done taking the law school admission test and the majority of both the logical reasoning and the analytical reasoning has to do with necessary and sufficient conditions. I started to understand the bed example that was used. Ripstein talks about the discrepancies that are made between needing permission to do something to prevent it from being a wrongdoing. He states how it is different when I walk by and view your flowers without permission and that’s fine whereas using your bed without permission would make it a wrong act even though both actions had the same level of permission. Intentions, fears, and objections are only significant from their objects they are applied/ directed to. The failure to ask for permission is only a wrongdoing if it is in itself a significant act.

“Negative liberty” are only intentional actions that prevent a person from achieving what they have set out to. The sovereignty principle gives harm principle defenders protection from the state with their steady role of individual freedom. In an effort to salvage my understanding of this article, I’m going to review what I know. Ripstein and Mill disagree on whether individual freedom should be limited to prevent harm on another. Not only does Ripstein believe that there should be some law intervention when harm is done, but also when there is infringement on an individual’s freedom. He does a great deal of talking about an individual’s sphere of freedom. There is also this understanding of how the definition of harm changes when it crosses the line into somebody else’s sphere of freedom. I am looking at this in comparison to a person swearing in a Christian household to a person swearing by himself or herself in a field alone.


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