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伤害测试通过三个条件来衡量和评估国家可以对表达权施加的调节量和力度:有效性、最小损害和相称性(Sumner, 150)。为了证明国家的家长式作风是正确的,干预行为必须预期会取得成功,而且在收益大于成本的情况下,干预政策的适用程度也不会降低(Sumner, 150)。危害测试确保在认为有必要进行国家监管时,个人言论自由的权利保持在最高水平。监管被认为是必要的方式是通过法律道德主义的法律理论。法律道德主义认为,法律可以合法地用来禁止与社会集体道德判断相冲突的行为,即使这些行为不会对他人造成身体或心理伤害(Himma)。《大西洋月刊》(the Atlantic)那篇广受好评的文章《美国人心灵的娇惯》(the Coddling of the American Mind)探讨了一个事件,阐述了这三种理论的重要性,以及它们与法律道德主义之间的联系。在校园里,触发警告被用作一种防范潜在有害内容的形式。这些警告旨在为那些遭受创伤的人提供准备,以应对冲突或伤害。当应用伤害原则时,不受欢迎或冒犯的信息与身体伤害无关,而是与心理不适有关。在这方面,损害原则将被认为是无关紧要的,而获得国家干预所需要采取的途径将是通过法律道德主义。共同利益和道德是指一个人的行为被认为不道德或极不受欢迎,当与大多数道德相冲突时,监管有可能模仿无纲领的论点。当对那些与他人发生冲突的人所表达的意见进行过滤时,就有可能形成一种“报复性保护”(Lukainoff)的应对机制。这最终可能导致那些基本表达权利受到侵犯的人之间的不平等。


The harm test measures and assesses the amount and force of regulation that the state can impose on ones right to expression, through three conditions: efficacy, minimal impairment, and proportionality, (Sumner, 150). To justify paternalism by the state, the act of interference must have expected success with no less intrusive policy applicable where the benefits outweigh the costs (Sumner, 150). The harm test ensures that one’s right to free speech is maintained to the highest level when state regulation is deemed necessary. The way of which regulation can be deemed necessary is through the theory of law known as legal moralism. Legal moralism is the view that the law can legitimately be used to prohibit behaviors that conflict with society’s collective moral judgments even when those behaviors do not result in physical or psychological harm to others (Himma). An incident explored in the acclaimed article by The Atlantic, The Coddling of the American Mind, addresses the importance of these three theories and the connection to legal moralism. Trigger warnings have been utilized on campus as a form of protection against potentially harmful content. These warnings are intended to provide those who have trauma, to be prepared for conflict or harm. When applying the harm principle, an unpopular or offensive message has little to do with physical harm but rather psychological discomfort. In this regard, the harm principle would be deemed irrelevant, and the pathway that would need to be taken to get state interference would be through legal moralism. Common interest and morality are what deems one’s actions to be immoral or intensely unpopular, and when conflicting with the majority morality, regulation has the possibility to mimic the no platform argument. When putting a filter on the opinions expressed by those who conflict with others, there is a risk for developing a coping mechanism of “vindictive protectiveness” (Lukainoff). This can ultimately end with inequality among those who’s fundamental rights to expression are being infringed.


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