Two principles should be basic. In an increasingly diverse society trying to compel beliefs or behaviour is increasingly futile. We shouldn’t do it even in a non-diverse society, of course. But these days it’s especially hopeless. So stick with the rule that we only regulate behaviour (and to a much lesser extent belief) that is actively harmful to others. There’s more than enough room for disagreement about where the boundaries lie to generate plenty of political debate.
The second basic principle is that although government is in some instances irreplaceable it is in most instances inefficient and subject to capture by interest groups. So we should use it as little as possible. In the domain of personal choice there’s hardly any room for it at all. In matters of public policy we should use it only when absolutely necessary.
William Watson: Conservatives’ three problems: Leader, platform, meaning
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