Failures to Prevent Harm

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:
Failures to Prevent Harm

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Feinberg addresses two questions. First, are bad Samaritan laws morally legitimate? He believes they are since it is important to avoid serious harm to personal interests, and persons in danger have a right to be saved by those who can do so without unreasonable risk. Second, does the harm principle cover blamable failure to prevent harm? Feinberg holds that requiring people to help prevent harm is sometimes as reasonable a legal policy as preventing people, by threat of punishment, from actively causing harm. This conclusion does not represent a departure from the harm principle, he argues, since, in some circumstances, omissions may cause harm.

Keywords: bad Samaritan laws; failure to prevent harm; harm principle; omission; personal interests; serious harm

Chapter.  29160 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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