Mill's applications chapter

Summary of the applications of the HTOP

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  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 21-06-11 15:06


Mill points out in chapter 3 that if an action causes some damage to the interests of another then it does not mean interference from the state is automatically justified.

Competition is an exception to the harm principle as there is potential for harm to be caused in the workplace or in exams but it is ok. The state is only able to intervien ig there is foul play or cheating present. eg. If there is only one place at a university then the person who gets that place is going to benefit from the loss of the others but that is ok

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Free Trade

Mill believes that there should be no restriction on trade; even the trade of things such as drugs and alcohol. There should be no state intevention as this would lead to infringements on the liberty of the buyer

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Mill believed that in regards to poison there should be monitors but not restricted/stopped. It would only be just to restrict the selling/buying of poison if every bit that was sold was used to kill. However this isnt the case as a fair percentage of the time it is used for legal and useful purposes such as killing rats.

Bridge analogy: you could only stop someone walking across a faulty bridge if they didnt know the risk as it is their liberty to walk across not to die. however, if they knew the risk you couldnt stop them.
Likewise, you can only stop someone from buying poison if they are not in a sound state of mind; you can only warn them of the dangers (similar to the warning on cigarette packets- you can warn but not stop) 

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Drunkenness and idleness

People, according to Mill, should be able to get drunk without any interference. The only time when people should be prevented from becoming drunk is if they have a history of violence when drunk. Also if being drunk will prevent you from being able to carry out your responsibilities such as parenting.

You shouldn't be prevented from being lazy unless it prevents you from doing your duties. 

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Offences against public decency

This application was considered by many to be contradictory.

Mill claims that public decency should be upheld and things which go against public decency should be prohibited as they casue offence. However, mill originally claimed that offence didnt count as harm in his HTOP.

This can be said to controdict the idea of experiments of living

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Advertising 'bad' things

He says tahat people should be able to do things but they should be careful in encouraging lack of self-control. Things deemed to be 'bad' should be kept queit so only people who want it can find it- sort of view point on prositutes and gambling.

bingo ads on TV are a negative thing- encoraging gambling

Restricting advertising for smoking would be a good thing

Could potentially contradict the free trade section

promoted positive freedom and liberty over negative freedom mill usually prefers.

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Mill says it is unreasonable to increase tax on alcohol to make becoming drunk more difficult however you should tax things such as alcohol before you tax things such as bread

Mill disagrees with the limitation on the number of pubs claiming that this paternalistic view, making it harder to become drunk means treating the 'labouring class' like children as opposed to rational beings

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Slavery contracts

Even if you choose to become a slave; this should not be allowed by the state. It is simply illogical to use your freedom to take your freedom away.

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Marriage contracts

Divorce can cause harm to any child you may have; however, not getting divorced is equally capable of causing harm to children. It should be thought through thouroughly but the state shouldnt force you to stay together. 

This can be used to show the difficulty in enforcing the HTOP as all options can lead to harm being caused

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Husbands and wives

Mill believed, contrary to the society at the time, that women should not be the property of men and that they should have equal rights

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Child's education

Father should get the best education possible for the child- if he doesnt the state should make him. The state should ensure education as being educated will lead to the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people. 

Positive right? 

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Examination results

Any education system should aim to give a balanced neutral set of facts from which you can make your own opinions. Mill dislikes state education as it means everyone if spoon fed the same view. There should be greater choice in experiments of education.

Mill argues that education is key to individuality and view subjects taught by the state such as RE and HISTORY to be evil as they are seen to forcibly impose views on children

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Marriage and children

Think people should be forbidden from marriage by law if they cannot support a family

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