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Read e-book online Liberty, Equality, Fraternity PDF

By Paul Spicker

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People can be required to be self-determining, in the sense of being forced to make their own decisions, even under constraints. For an offender on probation, the ‘right to fail’ may mean breach of a court order and imprisonment. The ‘right to fail’ is certainly necessary to be autonomous, but it is arguable whether it is necessary to be self-determining, because the effect of failure may be to put probation clients in a position where they are no longer able to choose for themselves. 70 Social workers may try, in the spirit of self-determination, to establish not just what people seem to want, but what they really want.

There are alternative methods of enforcement, too, beyond criminal 40 Liberty law. Some governments use civil law, relying on a combination of compliance and individuals taking legal action as a means of bringing behaviour under control. Some, of course, use other forms of punishment, such as those used in schools, to instil appropriate behaviour. And many governments, despite the extensive range of compulsory powers available to them, prefer to use alternative methods – persuasion, propaganda, incentive and reward.

Some actions are unlawful but not subject to criminal sanctions. 95 This understanding of the law has become unfashionable with black-letter lawyers (it has been dropped from later editions of the source I cited), because it relies on a reading of principles which goes beyond the letter of the law. It makes sense nevertheless. If sexual intercourse were lawful, like (say) higher education, people could advertise it, help others to do it, employ people to assist, offer facilities for its commerce, and so forth.

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