Rob Lyons asks how we might reassess John Stuart Mill’s harm principle in an age where harms abound. How do we live together in a society, when one person’s freedom is another person’s nightmare? From smoking bans to anti-social-behaviour orders, it can sometimes feel like we’ve given up on the principle of tolerance. Mill’s harm principle sounds like a decent basis, he writes, but it is no longer good enough. If we want to enjoy freedom, we need to demand the right to offend the sensibilities of those who want to deny us that freedom.

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Rob Lyons is science and technology director at the Academy of Ideas. He writes on a wide range of issues, but takes a particular interest in issues around the economy, environment, food, energy and risk. He is the author of Panic on a Plate: how society developed an eating disorder and convenor of the AoI Economy Forum.

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