• Contra argument – no person is entirely isolated being & it’s impossible for him to do anything seriously harmful/permanently hurtful to himself w/out mischief reaching at least those near to him & often those beyond. If he deteriorates his bodily or mental faculties, he not only brings evil upon all who depend on him for some portion of their happiness but disqualifies him from rendering services which he owes to fellow human beings. He may also injure others by his example (misleading/corrupting their conduct) & ought to be compelled to control himself for their sake. Even where the consequences can be confined to individual, society ought not to abandon seeking to prevent conduct condemned from beginning of time – drunkenness, gambling, uncleanliness – things which experience has shown not to be useful/suitable for any person’s individuality.


  • Mill’s response – fully admits mischief which a person does to himself may seriously affect, through their sympathies & interests, those who are close to him & society in a minor degree à when conduct of a person violates a distinct & assignable obligation to any other person, the case is taken out of self regarding class and becomes amenable to moral disapprobation in the proper sense of term; e.g. a man through his extravagance becomes unable to pay of his debts or, having undertaken the moral resp. of having a family, becomes incapable of educating & supporting them – here, he may be duly punished: not for his extravagance but for breach of duty to family & creditors.

  • Whenever there’s definite damage/risk of damage to some other individual or society the case is taken out of the realm of liberty and is placed in that of morality of law. E.g. a man who causes grief to his family by addiction to drugs, deserves a reproach for his unkindness, but isn’t to be punished for that by law. No person ought to be punished simply for being drunk but a soldier should be punished for being drunk on duty. But w/regard to merely contingent or constructive injury which a person causes to society which neither violates his duty to the public nor occasions hurt to any individual but himself the inconvenience is one which society can afford to bear.