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Graylings Argument

In logic there is no relevant difference between legal and currently


illegal drugs. Both are used for pleasure, relief from stress or
anxiety, and holidaying from normal life, and both are, in different
degrees, dangerous to health. Given this, consistent policy must
do one of two things: criminalize the use of nicotine and alcohol, in
order to bring them in line with currently illegal substances; or
legalize currently illegal substances under the same kind of regime
that governs nicotine and alcohol.
On civil liberties grounds the latter policy is the preferable
one because there is no justification in a good society for policing
behavior unless, in the form of rape, murder, theft, riot or fraud, it is
intrinsically damaging to the social fabric, and involves harm to
unwilling third parties. Good law protects in these respects; bad
law tries to coerce people into behaving according to norms
chosen by people who claim to know and do better than those for
whom they legislate. But the imposition of such norms is an
injustice. By all means let the disapprovers argue and exhort;
giving them the power to coerce and punish as well is
unacceptable.
Why a High Society is a Free Society A.C. Grayling Guardian May
19 2002.

(1) In logic there is no relevant difference between legal drugs


(namely nicotine and alcohol) and currently illegal drugs. (2) Both
are used for pleasure, relief from stress or anxiety, and holidaying
from normal life, and both are, in different degrees, dangerous to
health. Given this, (3) consistent policy must do one of two things:
[it must] criminalize the use of nicotine and alcohol, in order to
bring them in line with currently illegal substances; or [it must]
legalize currently illegal substances under the same kind of regime
that governs nicotine and alcohol. (4) On civil liberties grounds the
latter policy is the preferable one because (5) there is no
justification in a good society for policing behavior unless, in the
form of rape, murder, theft, riot or fraud, it is intrinsically damaging
to the social fabric, and involves harm to unwilling third parties. (6)
Good law protects in these respects; bad law tries to coerce people
into behaving according to norms chosen by people who claim to
know and do better than those for whom they legislate. But (7) the
imposition of such norms [chosen by people who claim to know
and do better] is an injustice. (8) By all means let the disapprovers
argue and exhort; giving them the power to coerce and punish as
well is unacceptable.

(1) In logic there is no relevant difference between legal drugs


(namely nicotine and alcohol) and currently illegal drugs. (2) Both
are used for pleasure, relief from stress or anxiety, and holidaying
from normal life, and both are, in different degrees, dangerous to
health. Given this, (3) consistent policy must do one of two things:
[it must] criminalize the use of nicotine and alcohol, in order to
bring them in line with currently illegal substances; or [it must]
legalize currently illegal substances under the same kind of regime
that governs nicotine and alcohol. (4) On civil liberties grounds the
latter policy is the preferable one because (5) there is no
justification in a good society for policing behavior unless, in the
form of rape, murder, theft, riot or fraud, it is intrinsically damaging
to the social fabric, and involves harm to unwilling third parties. (6)
But (7) coercing people into behaving according to norms chosen
by people who claim to know and do better than those for whom
they legislate is an injustice.

(1) In logic there is no relevant difference between legal drugs


(namely nicotine and alcohol) and currently illegal drugs. (2) Both
are used for pleasure, relief from stress or anxiety, and holidaying
from normal life, and both are, in different degrees, dangerous to
health. Given this, (3) consistent policy must do one of two things:
[it must] criminalize the use of nicotine and alcohol, in order to
bring them in line with currently illegal substances; or [it must]
legalize currently illegal substances under the same kind of regime
that governs nicotine and alcohol. (4) Consistent policy must
legalize currently illegal substances under the same kind of regime
that governs nicotine and alcohol because (5) [there is no
justification for criminalizing the use of nicotine and alcohol]
because (6) there is no justification in a good society for policing
behavior unless, in the form of rape, murder, theft, riot or fraud, it is
intrinsically damaging to the social fabric, and involves harm to
unwilling third parties. (7) [the use of currently legal drugs, namely
nicotine and alcohol, is not something that is both intrinsically
damaging to the social fabric and involves harm to unwilling third
parties] (8) coercing people into behaving according to norms
chosen by people who claim to know and do better than those for
whom they legislate is an injustice. (9) [Criminalizing the use of
nicotine and alcohol is a form of such coercion].
(2)

(1)

(6) + (7) (8) + (9)

(3) + (5)

(4)

Main Argument in Standard Argument Form (SAF)


1. Both legal drugs (alcohol and nicotine) and currently illegal
drugs are
used for pleasure, relief from stress or anxiety, and holidaying from
normal life, and both are, in different degrees, dangerous to health.
2. > There is no relevant difference between legal drugs (alcohol
and nicotine) and currently illegal drugs. (1)
3. > Consistent policy must either criminalize the use of nicotine
and alcohol, or legalize currently illegal substances under the
same kind of regime that governs nicotine and alcohol. (2)
4. The use of nicotine and alcohol should not be criminalized.
5. > Consistent policy must legalize currently illegal substances
under the same kind of regime that governs nicotine and
alcohol. (3,4, DS)
Two Arguments for 4
1. If there is justification for criminalizing behavior then that behaviour
is intrinsically damaging to the social fabric and involves harm to
unwilling third parties.
2. The use of nicotine and alcohol is not something that is both
intrinsically damaging to the social fabric and involves harm to
unwilling third parties. (assumption)
3. > There is no justification for criminalizing the use of nicotine and
alcohol (1, 2, MT)
1. Coercing people into behaving according to norms chosen by people
who claim to know and do better than those for whom they legislate is
an injustice
2. Criminalizing the use of nicotine and alcohol is a form of such
coercion (assumption).
3. > Criminalizing the use of nicotine and alcohol is a form of injustice (1,
2)
There are still two (harmless) assumptions we have not spelled out.
What are they?
There is at least one other assumption that is not so harmless. What it
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is?