Skip to content

Harm Principle, Offense Principle, and the Skokie Affair

by Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Political Studies ()
Get full text at journal


The primary aims are to formulate principles conducive to safeguarding fundamental civil rights and to employ the theory to analyse the Skokie affair. The focus is on the ethical question of the constraints on speech. I advance two arguments relating to the 'Harm Principle' and the 'Offence Principle'. Under the 'Harm Principle', restrictions on liberty may be prescribed when there are sheer threats of immediate violence against some individuals or groups. Under the 'Offence Principle', expressions which intend to inflict psychological offence are morally on a par with physical harm and thus there are grounds for abridging them. Moving from theory to practice, in the light of the formulated principles, the ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court which permitted the Nazis to hold a demonstration in Skokie is argued to be flawed.

Cite this document (BETA)

Readership Statistics

9 Readers on Mendeley
by Discipline
22% Arts and Humanities
22% Philosophy
11% Agricultural and Biological Sciences
by Academic Status
33% Student > Bachelor
22% Student > Master
11% Professor > Associate Professor

Sign up today - FREE

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research. Learn more

  • All your research in one place
  • Add and import papers easily
  • Access it anywhere, anytime

Start using Mendeley in seconds!

Sign up & Download

Already have an account? Sign in