Hart-Devlin Debate

Hart-Devlin Debate Essay example
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Lord Wolfenden chaired a meeting in 1957 that recommended the existence of homosexuality activities in private. The chairperson suggested that as long as their activities remained private they should not be criminalized (Cane 21).


However, the law is not against the private lives of people and the activities they undertake in private. Therefore, a law cannot be imposed that interferes with the private lives of people. The report by the committee sparked a reaction from Patrick Devlin. Devlin in his discussion on “the enforcement of morals” argued that criminal law is not only meant to protect individuals but the entire society. Therefore, if people are engaged in activities that are against the society norms should be criminated. He further argued that criminal law should not only protect criminal activities that directly affect people, but rather should protect society from adverse effects imposed by individuals both in public and in private (Cane 22). Herbert Hart reacted against the argument of Devlin in a radio broadcast. Hart argued with regard to the “harm principle” by J. S Mills. He argued that the only reason in which power can be correctly exercised over any individual in society against his will is, to ensure no harm imposed to others by the individual (Cane 23). An argumentative debate between the two individuals ensued, both of them believing their side of the argument to be reasonable. Devlin argued that the society supposed to be united by legal and moral conducts. ...
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