The Nanny State – legislating on health and morality – Halsbury’s Law Exchange

Posted May 1st, 2014 in crime, health, human rights, news, public interest by sally

‘“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant… Over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

The above principle laid down by John Stuart Mill is a cornerstone of liberal political and jurisprudential thought. Mill argued that, provided you cause no harm to others, you should be free to do what you like with your own body and life. This is what the right to personal autonomy and self-determination means; and it is a right which is being steadily, and quietly, eroded. If liberty, as Mill said, consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else, then we are already not free – and if the current trend of legislating on public health and morals continues the residual liberty we do enjoy will be diminished.’

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Halsbury’s Law Exchange, 30th April 2014