The Growth of the Preventive State and the Limits of Liberalism

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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
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Virginia Watson

Lecturer, Social Inquiry Program
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Technology

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Virginia Watson teaches across Social, Political and Historical Studies in the Social Inquiry Program at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her research interests include policy and administration in Australian Indigenous Affairs; liberal political thought and Indigenous rights; and transformations in liberal states. She has recently published in Cultural Studies Review and Australian Humanities Review.

Ref: I08P0426