Chapter

Puzzling Cases

Joel Feinberg

in The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law Volume 1: Harm to Others

Published in print August 1987 | ISBN: 9780195046649
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868728 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195046641.003.0003
Puzzling Cases

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Feinberg considers hard cases in the application of the concept of harm, such as moral harm, vicious harm, posthumous harm, and prenatal harm. Regarding moral harm, he states that a person's interests are not necessarily set back if she becomes a worse person; to be morally harmed, she must have some antecedent interest in having a good character. Concerning vicious harm, however, Feinberg claims that it is possible to harm one person by harming another if the former has an interest in the latter's welfare. For posthumous harm, Feinberg claims that if a “surviving interest” remains after a person's death, the thwarting of it could lead us to revise our view of that person's well‐being in life. Finally, concerning prenatal harm, Feinberg argues that fetuses (even if they are not persons) can be harmed only on the assumption that they will be born and will suffer the harmful effects of their prenatal injuries.

Keywords: good character; moral harm; surviving interest; vicious harm; welfare; well‐being

Chapter.  19323 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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