Harm to Norms

Jethro K. Lieberman

in Liberalism Undressed

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199919840
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980376 | DOI:
Harm to Norms

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This chapter demonstrates the incompatibility of the harm principle with various claims that forms of harmless immorality and other conduct that some people view as reprehensible or disgusting ought to be regulated or prohibited. The chapter asserts that under the externality constraint people may not generally have interests in others’ interests. The chapter also rejects communitarian, civic republican, and multiculturalist claims that because communities are sources of value government may regulate conduct that impinges on community norms. Finally, the chapter shows that by overturning law-like custom, antidiscrimination laws are consistent with the harm principle.

Keywords: antidiscrimination laws; communitarianism; civic republicanism; Devlin; externality constraint; harmless wrongdoing; immoral conduct; Sandel

Chapter.  17678 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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