- Explain the importance of equality as a value in a democracy.
In a democracy, one of the most fundamental values is equality. As a value, egalitarianism ensures that each person in a democracy has the same political rights as the others (Brookes, 2007). Equality in a democratic country ensures that the votes of all adult people have equal value (Brookes, 2007). Without the equality of the vote, the democratic ideal of universal suffrage would be impossible to maintain. Thus, equality ensures that disenfranchisement does not happen in a democratic society (Brookes, 2007). Furthermore, the presumption of equality before the law is essential for the functioning of democracy as it ensures that law is properly observed by all people.
- Explain whether Mill’s Harm Principle would be reasonable in respecting the privacy of your adult sister who is addicted to heroin.
The Harm Principle states that the society or the government should only interfere with the life and personal choices of others when the behavior of those people is a threat to others. In this case, drug abuse by one’s sister might seem as her personal choice which will only harm her and not the society as a whole. However, this is not the case as it is likely to cause serious damage to the family and even the larger society (Lucas, 2014). A person who becomes addicted to heroin is not only a burden on themselves but also on the society and their family (Lucas, 2014). They are likely to harm the family psychologically and financially because such individuals become increasingly dependent on their families. Thus, Mill’s Harm Principle would not be reasonable.
- Explain whether Liberty can be an absolute value in a democratic society.
Liberty means freedom of the self to do as one pleases. In a democratic society, it is not possible to have liberty as an absolute right (Flemming & McLain, 2013). One cannot be free to do anything they would like in a society because it can lead to the infringement of the rights of others. In a democratic society, an individual should balance liberty and order, which involves adherence to the law and social norms (Flemming & McLain, 2013). Additionally, one should also balance liberty and the rights of others. While democratic countries value individual freedom, they should ensure that it does not deny the others their rights because ultimately, democracy is not only about an individual but also about the society (Flemming & McLain, 2013). However, while maintaining the balance, liberty should be sacrificed in the interests of order and law as little as possible.
- Explain whether you can exercise liberty –or be at liberty—in a society which did not respect individual rights.
In a society where an individual’s rights are constricted and the law and social norms control individuals, it is not easy to exercise liberty because, in such societies, digressions from the norms are punished either through the use of legal instruments or through ostracism (Escriba-Folch, 2010). The exercise of liberty requires at least minimal tolerance for individual expression and an individual rather than collective rights through freedom of speech, political opinion, and other means (Escriba-Folch, 2010). Consequently, while an individual in such societies can hold views and desire to exercise their liberty, it will be difficult for them to do so.
- Suppose the majority of people in the country vote democratically to limit their liberty by abolishing freedom of speech, thought, religion, and conscience. Would that be objectionable? Why or why not? Could such a thing happen?
It is possible for people in a democratic state to vote to restrict their rights of religion, speech, thought, and conscience. In various crises, the population reacts differently, and in some cases, the majority of people might think that it is better to have less freedom in the interest of security. For example, in the aftermath of 9/11, most Americans were ready to sacrifice their rights, such as privacy, for the sake of security (Huddy & Feldman, 2011). However, such decision is not only undesirable, but it is also objectionable on several fronts. First, it would lead to a dictatorship of the majority. Second, in any democratic society, while the majority wins the elections, the minority should also be heard. It is impossible to have a consensus on freedom speech, thought, religion, and conscience; thus, voting to restrict them would be an affront to an individual’s liberty and personal freedoms.