Journal directory listing - Volume 69 (2024) - Journal of NTNU【69(1)】March

Exploring the Controversy Between Legal Moralism and Harm Principle: Rethinking the Hart–Devlin Debate Author: Kai Man Kwan(Department of Religion & Philosophy Hong Kong Baptist University Professor)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 69, No. 1
Date:March 2024

In the 1960s, a famous debate between Patrick Devlin & H. L. A. Hart happened over the legal enforcement of morality (legal moralism). Since then, the debate between advocates of the harmprinciple & defenders of legal moralism has never stopped. Moreover, in the last two decades, manyscholars have revisited the Hart-Devlin debate, & even some liberals have come to doubt the harmprinciple, e.g., Jeffrie Murphy. In this paper, by appealing to neglected arguments of Devlin & thework of contemporary philosophers, I argue that concerning the debate about the validity of the harmprinciple, the arguments critical of harm principle & in favor of some form of legal moralism mayhave at least a slight edge over the side supporting the harm principle.

Keywords:harm principle, legal moralism, H. L. A. Hart, Patrick Devlin