"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, December 20, 2004

Harm and the Law

Hunter writes, regarding laws against driving after having drunk two glasses of beer, laws which he supports and which I oppose: "Harm is not the only basis for enacting a law and punishing violators. Deterrence and retribution are also bases for invoking the power of the state."

I respectfully disagree. There is no basis whatever for deterrence of or retribution for anything that does not harm anyone. Laws against merely drinking and driving do not pass the harm test when, as is true in most U.S. states today, no actual offense that could even potentially cause harm in itself is required for prosecution.

1 comment:

Tlaloc said...

"There is no basis whatever for deterrence of or retribution for anything that does not harm anyone."

Deterence implies you are preventing the harm from taking place. Obviously a person driving under the influence has a much greater risk of causing or otherwise being involved in an auto collision. Hence there is a great potential harm. Operating heavy equipment (including a motor vehicle) while incapable of making sound judgements is willful negligence.

Blogging while incapable of making sound judgements should also be avoided.