Moralism versus Paternalism
The Harm Principle states that interference in self-regarding conduct is illegitimate except where that conduct may cause harm to others. Mill’s statement of this principle explicitly rejects other possible reasons for intervention: His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. This passage refers to two further legal justifications: paternalism (‘because it will be better for him to do so’) and moralism (‘to do so would be wise, or even right’). Mill denies that either provides sufficient reason to interfere with an individual’s freedom. This is one of the more radical aspects of Mill’s position in On Liberty. Social morality has, throughout history, been considered a significant factor in the legitimacy of the law. The likings and dislikings of society, or of some powerful portion of it, are thus the main thing which has practically determined the rules laid down for general observance, under the penalties of law or opinion. Mill, however, defines the boundaries of liberty without reference to the prevailing morality. This is not because Mill lacked moral conviction: on the contrary, he was not afraid to judge certain private actions as immoral.
What did Jesus mean by, “Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished?”
The Fulfillment of the Law
17Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.…