Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level





Richard Lee

Committee Member

Jacob Adler

Second Committee Member

Rebekkah Williams


Ethics, Free Speech, Harm Principle, Hate Speech, John Stuart Mill, Legal Principle


My goal in this work is to outline a specifically legal harm principle that is derived from John Stuart Mill’s harm principle in On Liberty. I will do this by providing a close reading of On Liberty and comparing it to what he says in chapter V of Utilitarianism. I believe that these two works provide a foundation for a harm principle that defines the domain and limits of the law. While this goal is not new, I focus on Mill’s general harm principle and the two maxims that he believes make it up in order to construct a relatively clear legal harm principle which becomes a part of his general principle. I believe that this may also make clearer what Mill’s view of the limitations of speech are and that he would allow that certain sorts of hate speech are not only within the domain of the law but that they could legitimately be prevented through the law.