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2018 Section 3 Question 1

1) According to Mill, a person should be allowed to do what he/she desires as long as the liberties of others are not infringed. There should be little intervention from other parties (e.g. the government). A person should be lawfully allowed to literally anything they think is correct as long as it does not affect anyone else negatively. With this statement, Mill directly argues against law paternalism and tries to protect individual rights.

To the contrary, this does not apply to children of course. They lack the cognitive capabilities to make informed and sensible decisions. In this case, other parties such as parents or relatives need to step in and take decisions for children. Another exception is mentally handicapped people. Other people need to make rational decisions for these people in order to help and support them to the best of their ability. In other cases, those who are fully capable of making informed decisions may sometimes make decisions, which can cause harm to themselves and others. An example is when someone tries to commit suicide. The police may need to intervene and help that person.

Freedom means lawfully doing whatever you want. However, in the situations described above, other parties do need to limit a person’s autonomy when needed. The government needs to establish laws, which prevent people from doing activities that can put their own lives and other people’s lives in danger and protect other people from crimes. As long as a person does what they want within the limits of the law, Mill’s statement holds true.

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