Liberty And Law


To an extent which is not generally realised, current controversy on the whole question of the relationship between legislation and moral­ity is still dominated by the thinking of John Stuart Mill a nineteenth century liberal intellectual. T. E. Utley – What Laws May Cure

Since liberty was a good to be preserved, it followed that self-regarding actions were wholly outside the proper sphere of the State. A man’s liberty could only reasonably be curtailed in order to protect the liberty of others. It could never be right to coerce him for his own good. Could it really be assumed utterly wrong in all circumstances to restrain a man’s actions for the sake of safe-guarding his own interests?

It is common to find individuals voluntarily limiting their own freedom, submitting to some kind of external authority which, on the whole, they believe will promote their own happiness more than it would be promoted by the instant gratification of each of their inclinations. It is scarcely possible to conceive of any act so private that it produces no impact on others. If the impact is sufficiently damaging, there will be a case for State intervention. Many have started with Mill’s principles and found that, without ever contradicting them, it is possible to justify vast public intrusions into private life.

There were large areas of life which, though they seemed quite unsuitable for legislative interference, could not tolerably be abandoned to the competition of private whims and interests. What the State could not suitably do in such cases might be done by the pressure of public opinion. Clearly, much useful social behaviour arises neither from spontaneous devotion to society nor from fear of government, but rather from fear of social disapproval. This did not really help much with the problem of liberty. The psychological pressures exerted by neighbours could be just as tyrannical and far less predictable than those exerted by Governments acting through known laws, interpreted by impartial courts.

In considering legislation on an issue of private morals, the State should ask precisely the same kind of question and make the same kind of calculation as in legislating about any other subject. The first consideration was whether the end which the new law promised to promote was in itself a good or bad end. The second consideration was whether, assuming it to be good, it was so good as to counteract the inevitable disadvantage of making a new law at all — restricting personal freedoms by extending state coercion.

2 responses to “Liberty And Law

  1. Pingback: Justice Scalia meets T.E. Utley – Peter Barnett - My Telegraph

  2. Pingback: Justice Scalia Meets T.E. Utley | Aasof getting serious!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Bulletin

This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

TCWG Short Stories

Join our monthly competition and share story ideas...

The Real Economy

Hello, I’m Ed Conway, Economics Editor of Sky News, and this is my website. Blogposts, stuff about my books and a little bit of music

Public Law for Everyone

Professor Mark Elliott

Bleda

Am I my Brothers keeper?

An Anthology of Short Stories

Selected by other writers

davidgoodwin935

The Short Stories of David Goodwin (Capucin)

The Bulletin

This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

TCWG Short Stories

Join our monthly competition and share story ideas...

The Real Economy

Hello, I’m Ed Conway, Economics Editor of Sky News, and this is my website. Blogposts, stuff about my books and a little bit of music

Public Law for Everyone

Professor Mark Elliott

Bleda

Am I my Brothers keeper?

An Anthology of Short Stories

Selected by other writers

davidgoodwin935

The Short Stories of David Goodwin (Capucin)

%d bloggers like this: