Live free, but do no harm

Photo by Benn Bell

In the course of human affairs, there is perhaps no more important principle than the right of personal freedom for the individual. However, these rights are not unlimited. One has to go no further than to John Stuart Mill for guidance. Mill posits the “harm principle” which holds that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals. He states in his treatise, On Liberty, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” If we turn to Frances’s Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789,” we see a similar statement of values: “Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.”

Articles IV and V from the Declaration of the Rights of Man states:

Liberty consists of doing anything which does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of each man has only those borders which assure other members of the society the fruition of these same rights. These borders can be determined only by the law.

The law has the right to forbid only actions harmful to society. Anything which is not forbidden by the law cannot be impeded, and no one can be constrained to do what it does not order.

An individual’s action can be legitimately encroached upon if and only if that action might harm another individual.

Returning to Mill, “No person is an entirely isolated being.” But it is only when an individual “violates a distinct and assignable obligation to any other person or persons, the case is taken out of the self-regarding class.” We harm an individual only when we violate an obligation to that individual. The damage done by the bad example set to others by a drunkard provides no legitimate reason for interference with his conduct; if his drunkenness causes him to violate the obligation to support his family, then that action constitutes “a harm” and is subject to interference.

If we cause sickness and death to come another individual through our actions or inactions such as wearing a mask and or being vaccinated during a pandemic, then we are in violation of the “harm principle” and are subject to interference.

The dividing line between the legitimate and illegitimate use of our freedom is difficult, but not impossible to draw. As responsible citizens and moral beings, we must look out for the rights of others as well as our own individual rights.

10 thoughts on “Freedom

  1. A very poignant post. I would definitely agree with this concept of liberty and freedom being limited to actions that don’t harm others. I like how you mention inaction too, ie. not wearing a mask or keeping distance from others. It’s a hot topic at the moment.

    When people say it’s their personal freedom being stomped on when they’re told to wear a mask or be polite in staying away from others, I can’t help but think that they’re taking away the freedom of those around them to not get Covid, to not have someone too close to them or talking across their face as they shout to their friend.

    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The only problem with your essay is that it is based on bad science.

    For example, if you were asked if mask effectiveness was a question for doctors, you’d be wrong. It’s a question for physicists and engineers to answer. So far, their research on the effectiveness of masks has only just begun.

    Mask mandates are therefore without foundation since there is no good evidence that masks prevent harm, except for self-contained breathing apparatus.

    The science is also clear that social distancing doesn’t work.

    Questions about vaccine mandates have to do with risk/benefit. The science is clear that natural immunity is far better than vaccines as regards immunity.

    The science is clear that the covid vaccines have caused more deaths and serious adverse events like stroke as recorded in the VAERS database than all other vaccines for the last 40 years.

    People have a right to risk their own bodies, but not to knowingly cause harm to the bodies of others. E.g., it would not be wrong to go out normally, without masks, if you didn’t know that you were infectious, but it would be wrong to have sex with someone else if you had AIDS.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There are numerous facts about covid vaccines that have to be considered in any risk/benefit analysis, which is necessary before you should recommend that others get vaccines.

    1) The covid vaccines being given in the US have an experimental status.
    2) Pharma is protected from liability lawsuits regarding those vaccines. A lack of accountability is not a reason to trust the covid vaccines.
    3) The VAERS signal of deaths associated with covid vaccines relative to other kinds of vaccines is HUGE. Something like 30x as many deaths as the average for other vaccines for a year.

    4) The FDA has been forced to admit via a FOIA request that there were AT LEAST 1223 deaths from the Pfizer covid vaccine that were reported to the FDA in the first three months of the rollout. Probably there were something like 30x as many deaths as those reported to the FDA, because adverse events are under-reported. And the 1223 deaths doesn’t include the Moderna or J&J covid vaccine death numbers.

    5) The benefit from the vaccines is short term and would require many boosters, each of which is associated with the risk of serious adverse events.
    6) There have been no long term safety trials in humans of the covid vaccines, so we don’t know the long term risks.

    7) The science shows that the covid vaccines cause clotting in everyone who is vaccinated. Degree matters. For some people, this is no big deal. For others, it can cause chronic health problems, disability, and death. E.g., heart attacks, pulmonary embolii, and strokes…and this problem is not so rare as the FDA and CDC have claimed.

    8) The FDA and CDC aren’t reporting the results of autopsies, so we have no way of knowing if they are doing autopsies. Autopsies are how you determine cause of death, so the FDA claims that deaths aren’t from the covid vaccines without conducting autopsies appears to be disinformation.

    9) The FDA has not been transparent about the data it holds. This should be alarming to everyone.

    Based on these facts, it seems to me that advocating for covid vaccines is reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible.


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