Stephen argues that such exceptions make Mill’s principle empty (Koons, 2003) but Higton (n.d.) clarifies that Mill refers to societies so backward that they are incapable of understanding the harm principle, let alone be responsible enough to apply them. Such classes lack the level of education and understanding which would enable them to benefit from the Harm principle. The principle implies that if I do not wear crash helmet it does not cause harm to anyone so the state ..
The definition of the word ‘harm’ has been considered vague and lacking in preciseness. Koons says that Mill allows the state to compel members of the society to aid others but it includes only direct harm and not the harm that I do others in harming myself. Trying to draw a line of distinction between offensive act and harmful one can lead to a dilemma. A person running naked on the street can be interpreted as an offensive act by some but a harmful act towards children by others. Homosexual act behind doors is more offensive behind doors than heterosexual act in public. Thus if an offensive act is done in privacy with full consciousness of the outcome, then it complies with the norms of the harm principle but this has again been a cause of controversy as people contend that there should be no distinction between public and private actions. An act in private can equally and adversely affect the society but Feinberg states that causing offense is less serious than harming someone so the penalty imposed for an offensive act should not be as heavy as that of harm (Mill, 2002).
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