The Growth of the Preventive State and the Limits of Liberalism
These days there are increasing calls for and uses of (preventive) state interventions – that is, interventions made by the state before any harm has been done. On the one hand, one of the basic principles of liberalism is that citizens’ have a right to be free from (punitive) state intervention so long as no demonstrable harm has been done. On the other hand, it is also the case that the harm principle within liberal thought may be interpreted as a harm prevention principle. Understood this way the risk of harm might be a reason for interference. The question this paper addresses therefore is whether the preventive state can be justified within the limits of liberalism.
Keywords: Liberalism, The Preventive State Executive Power and The Liberal State
Dr. Virginia Watson
Lecturer, Social Inquiry Program