JOHN STUART MILL?S ?HARM PRINCIPLE? AS THE FOUNDATION FOR HEALTHY SOCIAL RELATIONS

Abstract

Author(s): Dotun OGUNKOYA

This paper examines John Stuart Mill’s theory of liberty in the light of the contemporary society. It argues the thesis that Mill’s “Harm Principle”, to a large extent, provides the foundation for the emergence of healthy social relations, harmonious life, as well as the enhancement of arrangements, aimed at fastening together, the broken pieces of the already polarized and disintegrated society. The “Harm Principle” is an outcome and essential part of Mill’s theory of liberty as expressed in his famous essay, On Liberty. Thus, our task in this paper consists of a deep analysis of Mill’s “Harm principle”, as well as the identification of certain areas of social relations (such as socio-political relations as found in Nigeria, and inter-group relations as found amongst religious sects), where this principle can be applied for societal harmony. Since our interest in the application of “Mill’s Harm Principle” is provoked by the problems of our immediate environment (Nigeria), examples of our analysis of unhealthy social relations shall be drawn from Nigeria as a representative of plural societies. However, this endeavour does not pretend that such a theory is infinite and that its application would be done without some cautions against certain difficulties. It is against this background that the work promises to distill the limits to which the “Harm principle” is adoptable to regulate human behaviour

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