The Simple Truth about J.S. Mill’s Simple Truth

In the first of a two-part piece on drug legalization at the Library of Law and Liberty, Dalrymple looks at the philosophical side of the issue and says that the arguments of the legalizers, based on John Stuart Mill’s famous dictum, are too simplistic:

Man is a social as well as a political animal, and except for the very few who live in genuine isolation, almost all that we do affects someone else. Of course, the degree to which one’s actions affect others varies; but the fact that the degree is a continuum rather than categorical means the authority to interfere, prohibit, or control is a matter of judgment. That authority cannot be exercised or not according to a simple principle. The fact that we sometimes think it right, and sometimes not, to interfere in a man’s actions does not mean that we have, or must have, a clear abstract line of demarcation in our minds.

…Trying to make the law conform to “natural” boundaries without any arbitrariness whatsoever is what Mill and the legalizers… try to do. But nature is not organized for the law’s convenience.

Read it here

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