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  1. Punishment, Jesters and Judges: A Response to Nathan Hanna.Bill Wringe - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):3-12.
    Nathan Hanna has recently argued against a position I defend in a 2013 paper in this journal and in my 2016 book on punishment, namely that we can punish someone without intending to harm them. In this discussion note I explain why two alleged counterexamples to my view put forward by Hanna are not in fact counterexamples to any view I hold, produce an example which shows that, if we accept a number of Hanna’s own assumptions, punishment does not require (...)
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  • Harm as a Necessary Component of the Concept of Medical Disorder: Reply to Muckler and Taylor.Jerome C. Wakefield & Jordan A. Conrad - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (3):350-370.
    Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis asserts that the concept of medical disorder includes a naturalistic component of dysfunction and a value component, both of which are required for disorder attributions. Muckler and Taylor, defending a purely naturalist, value-free understanding of disorder, argue that harm is not necessary for disorder. They provide three examples of dysfunctions that, they claim, are considered disorders but are entirely harmless: mild mononucleosis, cowpox that prevents smallpox, and minor perceptual deficits. They also reject the proposal that dysfunctions (...)
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  • A Hybrid Account of Harm.Charlotte Franziska Unruh - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
    When does a state of affairs constitute a harm to someone? Comparative accounts say that being worse off constitutes harm. The temporal version of the comparative account is seldom taken seriously, due to apparently fatal counterexamples. I defend the temporal version against these counterexamples, and show that it is in fact more plausible than the prominent counterfactual version of the account. Non-comparative accounts say that being badly off constitutes harm. However, neither the temporal comparative account nor the non-comparative account can (...)
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  • Well-Being Counterfactualist Accounts of Harm and Benefit.Olle Risberg, Jens Johansson & Erik Carlson - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1):164-174.
    ABSTRACT Suppose that, for every possible event and person who would exist whether or not the event were to occur, there is a well-being level that the person would occupy if the event were to occur, and a well-being level that the person would occupy if the event were not to occur. Do facts about such connections between events and well-being levels always suffice to determine whether an event would harm or benefit a person? Many seemingly attractive accounts of harm (...)
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  • Harm and Discrimination.Katharina Berndt Rasmussen - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):873-891.
    Many legal, social, and medical theorists and practitioners, as well as lay people, seem to be concerned with the harmfulness of discriminative practices. However, the philosophical literature on the moral wrongness of discrimination, with a few exceptions, does not focus on harm. In this paper, I examine, and improve, a recent account of wrongful discrimination, which divides into a definition of group discrimination, and a characterisation of its moral wrong-making feature in terms of harm. The resulting account analyses the wrongness (...)
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  • Harming as Making Worse Off.Duncan Purves - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (10):2629-2656.
    A powerful argument against the counterfactual comparative account of harm is that it cannot distinguish harming from failing to benefit. In reply to this problem, I suggest a new account of harm. The account is a counterfactual comparative one, but it counts as harms only those events that make a person occupy his level of well-being at the world at which the event occurs. This account distinguishes harming from failing to benefit in a way that accommodates our intuitions about the (...)
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  • Counterfactuals, Indeterminacy, and Value: A Puzzle.Eli Pitcovski & Andrew Peet - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-20.
    According to the Counterfactual Comparative Account of harm and benefit, an event is overall harmful for a subject to the extent that this subject would have been better off if it had not occurred. In this paper we present a challenge for the Counterfactual Comparative Account. We argue that if physical processes are chancy in the manner suggested by our best physical theories, then CCA faces a dilemma: If it is developed in line with the standard approach to counterfactuals, then (...)
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  • Radical Epistemology, Structural Explanations, and Epistemic Weaponry.Richard Pettigrew - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):289-304.
    When is a belief justified? There are three families of arguments we typically use to support different accounts of justification: arguments from our intuitive responses to vignettes that involve the concept; arguments from the theoretical role we would like the concept to play in epistemology; and arguments from the practical, moral, and political uses to which we wish to put the concept. I focus particularly on the third sort, and specifically on arguments of this sort offered by Clayton Littlejohn in (...)
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  • The Irrelevance of Harm for a Theory of Disease.Dane Muckler & James Stacey Taylor - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (3):332-349.
    Normativism holds that there is a close conceptual link between disease and disvalue. We challenge normativism by advancing an argument against a popular normativist theory, Jerome Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction account. Wakefield maintains that medical disorders are breakdowns in evolved mechanisms that cause significant harm to the organism. We argue that Wakefield’s account is not a promising way to distinguish between disease and health because being harmful is neither necessary nor sufficient for a dysfunction to be a disorder. Counterexamples to the (...)
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  • Harm, Failing to Benefit, and the Counterfactual Comparative Account.Justin Klocksiem - forthcoming - Utilitas:1-17.
    In the literature about harm, the counterfactual comparative account has emerged as a main contender. According to it, an event constitutes a harm for someone iff the person is worse off than they would otherwise have been as a result. But the counterfactual comparative account faces significant challenges, one of the most serious of which stems from examples involving non-harmful omitted actions or non-occurring events, which it tends to misclassify as harms: for example, Robin is worse off when Batman does (...)
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  • The Preemption Problem.Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (2):351-365.
    According to the standard version of the counterfactual comparative account of harm, an event is overall harmful for an individual if and only if she would have been on balance better off if it had not occurred. This view faces the “preemption problem.” In the recent literature, there are various ingenious attempts to deal with this problem, some of which involve slight additions to, or modifications of, the counterfactual comparative account. We argue, however, that none of these attempts work, and (...)
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  • The Problem of Justified Harm: A Reply to Gardner.Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):735-742.
    In this paper, we critically examine Molly Gardner’s favored solution to what she calls “the problem of justified harm.” We argue that Gardner’s view is false and that her arguments in support of it are unconvincing. Finally, we briefly suggest an alternative solution to the problem which avoids the difficulties that beset Gardner’s proposal.
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  • Harming and Failing to Benefit: A Reply to Purves.Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (6):1539-1548.
    A prominent objection to the counterfactual comparative account of harm is that it classifies as harmful some events that are, intuitively, mere failures to benefit. In an attempt to solve this problem, Duncan Purves has recently proposed a novel version of the counterfactual comparative account, which relies on a distinction between making upshots happen and allowing upshots to happen. In this response, we argue that Purves’s account is unsuccessful. It fails in cases where an action makes the subject occupy a (...)
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  • Against the Worse Than Nothing Account of Harm: A Reply to Immerman.Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
    The counterfactual comparative account of harm faces well-known problems concerning preemption and omission. In a recent article in this journal, Daniel Immerman proposes a novel variant of cca, which he calls the worse than nothing account. According to Immerman, wtna nicely handles the preemption and omission problems. We seek to show, however, that wtna is not an acceptable account of harm. In particular, while wtna deals better than cca with some cases that involve preemption and omission, it has implausible implications (...)
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  • A New Principle of Plural Harm.Magnus Jedenheim-Edling - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (6):1853-1872.
    According to the counterfactual comparative account, an event harms a person if and only if it makes things worse for her. Cases of overdetermination and preemption pose a serious challenge to CCA since, in these cases, although it is evident that people are harmed, there are no individual events that harm them. However, while there are no individual events that make people worse off in cases of overdetermination and preemption, there are pluralities of events that do so. In light of (...)
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  • A new principle of plural harm.Magnus Jedenheim-Edling - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (6):1-20.
    According to the counterfactual comparative account, an event harms a person if and only if it makes things worse for her. Cases of overdetermination and preemption pose a serious challenge to CCA since, in these cases, although it is evident that people are harmed, there are no individual events that harm them. However, while there are no individual events that make people worse off in cases of overdetermination and preemption, there are pluralities of events that do so. In light of (...)
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  • The Worse Than Nothing Account of Harm and the Preemption Problem.Daniel Immerman - 2021 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 19 (1):25-48.
    Because harm is an important notion in ethics, it’s worth investigating what it amounts to. The counterfactual comparative account of harm, commonly thought to be the most promising account of harm, analyzes harm by comparing what actually happened with what would have happened in some counterfactual situation. But it faces the preemption problem, a problem so serious that it has driven some to suggest we abandon the counterfactual comparative account and maybe even abandon the notion of harm altogether. This paper (...)
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  • Harm, Baselines, and the Worse Than Nothing Account.Daniel Immerman - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    Harm is one of the central concepts of ethics so it would be good to offer an account of it. Many accounts appeal to a baseline: they say that you harm someone if you leave them worse off than in the baseline case. In this paper, I draw some lessons regarding what counts as an appropriate baseline and explore what these general lessons reveal about the nature of harm. In the process of so doing, I argue that a certain rarely-discussed (...)
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  • The Nature of Punishment: Reply to Wringe.Nathan Hanna - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (5):969-976.
    Many philosophers think that an agent punishes a subject only if the agent aims to harm the subject. Bill Wringe has recently argued against this claim. I show that his arguments fail.
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  • When Good Things Happen to Harmed People.Molly Gardner - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):893-908.
    The problem of justified harm is the problem of explaining why it is permissible to inflict harm for the sake of future benefits in some cases but not in others. In this paper I first motivate the problem by comparing a case in which a lifeguard breaks a swimmer’s arm in order to save her life to a case in which Nazis imprison a man who later grows wiser as a result of the experience. I consider other philosophers’ attempts to (...)
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  • The Harm Principle and the Nature of Harm.Anna Folland - 2021 - Utilitas:1-15.
    This article defends the Harm Principle, commonly attributed to John Stuart Mill, against recent criticism. Some philosophers think that this principle should be rejected, because of severe difficulties with finding an account of harm to plug into it. I examine the criticism and find it unforceful. Finally, I identify a faulty assumption behind this type of criticism, namely that the Harm Principle is plausible only if there is a full-blown, and problem-free, account of harm, which proponents of the principle can (...)
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  • The Harm Principle and the Nature of Harm.Anna Folland - 2022 - Utilitas 34 (2):139-153.
    This article defends the Harm Principle, commonly attributed to John Stuart Mill, against recent criticism. Some philosophers think that this principle should be rejected, because of severe difficulties with finding an account of harm to plug into it. I examine the criticism and find it unforceful. Finally, I identify a faulty assumption behind this type of criticism, namely that the Harm Principle is plausible only if there is a full-blown, and problem-free, account of harm, which proponents of the principle can (...)
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  • Harming by Failing to Benefit.Neil Feit - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (4):809-823.
    In this paper, I consider the problem of omission for the counterfactual comparative account of harm. A given event harms a person, on this account, when it makes her worse off than she would have been if it had not occurred. The problem arises because cases in which one person merely fails to benefit another intuitively seem harmless. The account, however, seems to imply that when one person fails to benefit another, the first thereby harms the second, since the second (...)
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  • Does Abortion Harm the Fetus?Karl Ekendahl & Jens Johansson - 2021 - Utilitas:1-13.
    A central claim in abortion ethics is what might be called the Harm Claim – the claim that abortion harms the fetus. In this article, we put forward a simple and straightforward reason to reject the Harm Claim. Rather than invoking controversial assumptions about personal identity, or some nonstandard account of harm, as many other critics of the Harm Claim have done, we suggest that the aborted fetus cannot be harmed for the simple reason that it does not occupy any (...)
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  • Does Abortion Harm the Fetus?Karl Ekendahl & Jens Johansson - 2022 - Utilitas 34 (2):154-166.
    A central claim in abortion ethics is what might be called the Harm Claim – the claim that abortion harms the fetus. In this article, we put forward a simple and straightforward reason to reject the Harm Claim. Rather than invoking controversial assumptions about personal identity, or some nonstandard account of harm, as many other critics of the Harm Claim have done, we suggest that the aborted fetus cannot be harmed for the simple reason that it does not occupy any (...)
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  • Gene Editing, Identity and Benefit.Thomas Douglas & Katrien Devolder - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (2):305-325.
    Some suggest that gene editing human embryos to prevent genetic disorders will be in one respect morally preferable to using genetic selection for the same purpose: gene editing will benefit particular future persons, while genetic selection would merely replace them. We first construct the most plausible defence of this suggestion—the benefit argument—and defend it against a possible objection. We then advance another objection: the benefit argument succeeds only when restricted to cases in which the gene-edited child would have been brought (...)
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  • Gene Editing, Identity and Benefit.Thomas Douglas & Katrien Devolder - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (2):305-325.
    Some suggest that gene editing human embryos to prevent genetic disorders will be in one respect morally preferable to using genetic selection for the same purpose: gene editing will benefit particular future persons, while genetic selection would merely replace them. We first construct the most plausible defence of this suggestion—the benefit argument—and defend it against a possible objection. We then advance another objection: the benefit argument succeeds only when restricted to cases in which the gene-edited child would have been brought (...)
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  • Harm: The Counterfactual Comparative Account, the Omission and Pre-Emption Problems, and Well-Being.Tanya De Villiers-Botha - 2018 - South African Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):1-17.
    The concept of “harm” is ubiquitous in moral theorising, and yet remains poorly defined. Bradley suggests that the counterfactual comparative account of harm is the most plausible account currently available, but also argues that it is fatally flawed, since it falters on the omission and pre-emption problems. Hanna attempts to defend the counterfactual comparative account of harm against both problems. In this paper, I argue that Hanna’s defence fails. I also show how his defence highlights the fact that both the (...)
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  • Harm as Negative Prudential Value: A Non-Comparative Account of Harm.Tanya de Villiers-Botha - 2020 - SATS 21 (1):21-38.
    In recent attempts to define ‘harm’, the most promising approach has often been thought to be the counterfactual comparative account of harm. Nevertheless, this account faces serious difficulties. Moreover, it has been argued that ‘harm’ cannot be defined without reference to a substantive theory of well-being, which is itself a fraught issue. This has led to the call for the concept to simply be dropped from the moral lexicon altogether. I reject this call, arguing that the non-comparative approach to defining (...)
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  • Causal Accounts of Harming.Erik Carlson, Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - 2022 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 103 (2):420-445.
    A popular view of harming is the causal account (CA), on which harming is causing harm. CA has several attractive features. In particular, it appears well equipped to deal with the most important problems for its main competitor, the counterfactual comparative account (CCA). However, we argue that, despite its advantages, CA is ultimately an unacceptable theory of harming. Indeed, while CA avoids several counterexamples to CCA, it is vulnerable to close variants of some of the problems that beset CCA.
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  • Wherein is the Concept of Disease Normative? From Weak Normativity to Value-Conscious Naturalism.M. Cristina Amoretti & Elisabetta Lalumera - 2021 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 25 (1):1-14.
    In this paper we focus on some new normativist positions and compare them with traditional ones. In so doing, we claim that if normative judgments are involved in determining whether a condition is a disease only in the sense identified by new normativisms, then disease is normative only in a weak sense, which must be distinguished from the strong sense advocated by traditional normativisms. Specifically, we argue that weak and strong normativity are different to the point that one ‘normativist’ label (...)
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  • A Simple Analysis of Harm.Jens Johansson & Olle Risberg - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper, we present and defend an analysis of harm that we call the Negative Influence on Well-Being Account (NIWA). We argue that NIWA has a number of significant advantages compared to its two main rivals, the Counterfactual Comparative Account (CCA) and the Causal Account (CA), and that it also helps explain why those views go wrong. In addition, we defend NIWA against a class of likely objections, and consider its implications for several questions about harm and its role (...)
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  • What Is Punishment?Frej Klem Thomsen - manuscript
    Since the middle of the 20th century, philosophers and legal scholars have debated the precise definition of punishment. This chapter surveys the debate, identifies six potential conditions of punishment, and critically reviews each of them: 1) the response condition, which holds that punishment must be in response to wrongdoing, 2) the culpability condition, which holds that punishment must be of a person morally responsible for wrongdoing, 3) the authority condition, which holds that punishment must be imposed by a relevant authority, (...)
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