Digest of terms

liberty-limiting principles

In order for liberty to be exercised in society, certain limits to its practice have to be imposed. Which limits are to be thought to be morally acceptable depends on which liberty-limiting principles are invoked as their justification. Prominent candidates are the principle of preventing harm to others, and the principle of preventing offense to others. The principle of preventing harm to self may also be invoked, as may the principle of promoting benefit to others. In a strongly religious society the principle of preventing or punishing sin, or of safeguarding religion, may lead, for example, to laws concerning blasphemy or apostasy. Both the interpretation and the application of these principles remain contested issues, with widely differing configurations possible.

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