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Human Values pp 184-216 | Cite as

Law, Liberalism, and the Common Good

Chapter

Abstract

There is a tendency in contemporary jurisprudence to regard political authority and, more particularly, legal intervention in human affairs as having no justification unless it can be defended by what I shall call the principle of modern liberal autonomy (MLA). According to this principle, if consenting adults want to do something, unless it does specific harm to others here and now, the law has no business intervening. Harm to the self and general harm to society can constitute no justification for legal regulation or prohibition. So pervasive is this understanding of legal intervention in human affairs, that it is common now to encounter arguments in favour of permissive laws on, for example, private drug use, pornography, and sexual and reproductive choice, based on the idea that to intervene in these areas would constitute a breach of the liberal ideal.

Keywords

Common Good Liberal Ideal Moral Objectivity Legal Intervention Donor Gamete 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    J.S. Mill, On Liberty (London: Penguin, 1974): 68–9. For an opposing view, see Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Three Brief Essays (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991 [1873]).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
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  9. 31.
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© Jacqueline A. Laing 2004

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