1. THE HARM PRINCIPLE
by JOHN STUART MILL, 1806-1873 Whenever legislation is proposed that limits our freedoms, someone will reach for Mill’s On Liberty and point to the passage that says, ‘The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.’ What could be clearer? Except it isn’t clear: it depends on what you mean by harm. Does hate speech harm minorities? Does sexist language harm women, by making them less credible in the eyes of society? Philosophical principles are like credit agreements: the headlines are convincing, but the small print catches you out.
Here’s a pdf… Ten of the greatest: Philosophical principles