Call me conservative, but I am a total believer in following the rules.
Which rules are you talking about, Elizabeth?
I’m so glad you asked! The rules that I believe in are not speed limits or gun laws. Don’t get me wrong. They serve valid purposes. But it is the principle of what those rules are. “You can…. You can’t….” It is really sad that our society requires such black and white rules and we still can’t even abide by them. Who can remember them all?!
Although I do not believe that we will ever live in a perfect world, I think the only way to even attempt to achieve perfection is by following basic moral, spiritual and philosophical guidelines. I’m going to talk about one of those…..now.
The Harm Principle (J.S. Mills) is the basic idea that you can do whatever you want so long as it doesn’t interfere with the freedom or safety of others. I learned all about this in Philosophy 110 this past semester. :)
Of course there are plenty of holes in this idea. You can find holes in just about anything if you’re willing to. Just to pick one hot topic, based on Mill’s principle you don’t have to drive the speed limit as long as you aren’t interfering with anyone else’s well being. But who are we to make those judgment calls? Sure, I believe I am physically capable of driving, say, 100 in a 65. And I don’t think I’m causing harm to anyone else. Until I reach down to flip my cassette tape (…or change the radio…), look up and BAM hit somebody who didn’t realize I was going so fast and pulled out in front of me.
You also have the issue of self harm. It’s not directly harm to others, however if a single mother decides to off herself, wouldn’t it indirectly harm her children? Who will take care of them? What kind of psychological damage will they undergo? What it boils down to is the decisions we make affect others and we need to consider the consequences before we make them.
Concepts like the Harm Principle are the rules I believe in. They inspire common sense and the consideration of others.
(side note: I have finally figured out how to add links! did you see it?! I’m so proud!)