SAMPLE ANSWERS TO MIDTERM REVIEW QUESTIONS

From 1(e):

Economic Conservative = One who holds the view that the only legitimate roles of government are to protect rights to equal liberty and to solve Collective Action Problems.

Classical Conservative = One who holds the view that one of the legitimate roles of a government is the moral improvement of its citizens.

#7. (a) J.S. Mill

I believe that Mill would favor legalization of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, but I am not sure, because I believe that some of Mill's arguments would tend to favor legalization and some would tend to favor prohibition. So I will give two answers to this question:

PRO-LEGALIZATION: (i) Mill's arguments that would tend to favor legalization are the arguments that he presents against the Maine Law (a law prohibiting sale and consumption of alcohol), the arguments against prohibitions on gambling, and the arguments against prohibitions on poisons. In each case, he argues for restrictions solely based on preventing harm to others. (ii) He does not give paternalistic arguments for his positions on these issues. In fact, he specifically objects to the paternalistic arguments made by the advocates of prohibition. (iv) Mill believes that society has no business intervening in the free choices of its adult citizens in order to prevent what society regards as harms. He gives several arguments against such paternalistic intervention, of which, he claims, the strongest is that when society does interfere in purely personal conduct, the odds are that it interferes wrongly and in the wrong place.

ANTI-LEGALIZATION: (i) Mill does present an argument that might be used to argue against legalization of heroin, cocaine, or marijuana. (ii) Mill's argument is paternalistic. (iii) He claims that it is permissible to interfere with an individual's liberty to prevent the person from selling himself into slavery. He argues that a person's good is best provided for by allowing him to choose his own means to pursue it. Because selling himself into slavery would prevent him from having the liberty to pursue his own good in his own way, Mill argues that a person should not be free to give up his freedom. Mill's argument is paternalistic, because his argument is based on promoting the good of the person whose liberty is restricted (the potential slave), not on potential harm to others. Mill states that the argument against voluntary slavery contracts is "of far wider application". Therefore, it seems reasonable to think that if heroin or cocaine or marijuana were found to be seriously addictive so as to seriously diminish the freedom of the addict, then the decision to use such drugs might be similar to sell oneself into slavery, and Mill's paternalistic argument against voluntary slavery contracts would apply to these drugs, also.