Mill’s Harm Principle

In his essay “On Liberty” John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) lays down that so-called “harm principle” which now counts as one of the fundamental principles of liberalism: “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.”

Now, there is no doubt but that, every time action is taken such that another human being begins to exist, the points are set in such a way that harm, indeed harm to the point of death, for another will inescapably result. Would, then, a truly civilized community based on Mill’s “harm principle” not have the right to constrain people to practice contraception, so that couples would not act in such a way that a third party – once he or she began to exist – would inevitably come to harm and even have to die?

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