Feinberg is one of the leading philosophers of law of the last forty years. This volume collects recent articles, both published and unpublished, on what he terms "basic questions" about the law, particularly in regard to the relationship to morality. Accessibly and elegantly written, this volume's audience will reflect the diverse nature of Feinberg's own interests: scholars in philosophy of law, legal theory, and ethical and moral theory.
For several decades the work of Joel Feinberg has been the most influential in legal, political, and social philosophy in the English-speaking world. This volume honours that body of work by presenting fifteen original essays, many of them by leading legal and political philosophers, that explore the problems that have engaged Feinberg over the years. Amongst the topics covered are issues of autonomy, responsibility, and liability. It will be a collection of interest to anyone working in moral, legal, or political (...) philosophy. (shrink)
Prospective ascription of responsibility is hypothetical, commonly noting or setting conditions for critical judgment or liability if some event occurs or fails to occur, thus determining vulnerability to retrospective judgments. Prospective liabilities can be classified by source, by type or degree (if any) of accompanying control, and by structure or stages.But not all prospective responsibility can be understood in terms of liability. Actual or de facto control over X and/or responsibility for Y (persons, animals, inanimate things, etc.), though they may (...) involve prospective liabilities, may not be responsibilities to any person in particular. Such responsibilities may be called responsibilities in rem and distinguished from those assignable to persons (responsibilities in personam).Though prospective responsibility judgments often provide the most important grounds for retrospective judgments, if the concern is with the meaning of responsibility judgments, retrospective responsibility judgments are more basic. For, while we can understand retrospective judgments even though we know nothing of prospective ones, the opposite is not true. (shrink)
One who is responsible tout court may be contrasted either with irresponsible persons or with non-responsible (incompetent) persons. Calling one responsible may be either merely describing, or it may be ascribing certain excellences of character. Praising a person for being generally responsible may indicate his/her willingness to take on new liability when s/he has a duty or responsibility to do so, or it may point to virtues which make for effective use of discretion, or it may be certification of moral (...) trustworthiness. Common to all the states opposed to responsibility is a kind of unfitness for prospective or retrospective judgments of liability. Responsibility for . . . provides the contextual background for responsibilities tout court and also for the unity underlying their various ambiguities.One who is generally responsible in the “on balance” sense is responsible in all senses of the word. S/he is (all told) neither non-responsible, nor irresponsible, nor unresponsible and is a safe bet for assignments of prospective liability in virtue of good judgment, self-reliance, and trustworthiness. To describe him or her is to portray an ideal---not the only ideal that philosophical moralists have prescribed for human conduct and character---but an ideal peculiarly adapted to the needs of the modern world. (shrink)
In this volume, Feinberg focuses on the meanings of "interest," the relationship between interests and wants, and the distinction between want-regarding and ideal-regarding analyses on interest and hard cases for the applications of the concept of harm. Examples of the "hard cases" are harm to character, vicarious harm, and prenatal and posthumous harm. Feinberg also discusses the relationship between harm and rights, the concept of a victim, and the distinctions of various quantitative dimensions of harm, consent, and offense, including the (...) magnitude, probability, risk, and "importance" of harm. (shrink)
This paper asks whether the criminal law can have any legitimate concern with obscene language. At most, such a concern could be justified by the need to protect auditors from offense, since it is not plausible to think of exposure to dirty words as harmful or inherently immoral. A distinction is drawn between bare utterance and instant offense, on the one hand, and offensive nuisance and harassment, on the other. Only when obscene language is used to harass can it properly (...) be made criminal. Finally, I criticize in some detail judicial reasoning in the case of F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, and conclude that obscene language on the public media is not properly subject to governmental regulation, whether- by criminal law or otherwise. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A9102008 00002. (shrink)
This article distinguishes and evaluates the various forms of legal moralism from a liberal vantage point. It devotes special attention to the most plausible form of the theory, That which is often called "the conservative thesis," and to that supporting argument which is based on the need to prevent "freefloating social-Change evils." freefloating evils are defined as evils that are imputable to human beings but which do not give rise to personal grievances as harms, Offenses, And "harmless exploitative injustices" do. (...) I conclude that the need to prevent such evils is a relevant, But generally inferior, Reason for coercion. (shrink)
This article defends the ethical theory of william wollaston against the objections of hume and later writers who uncritically accepted hume's account of what wollaston said. I then argue that the true flaws in wollaston's view that all wrongdoing is false representing are that it cannot explain why some immoral acts are worse than others, And it presupposes antecedent moral principles of a different kind. I conclude that wollaston's theory, While failing as a general account of all immorality, Can nevertheless (...) be used to explain the difference between actions that are specifically unjust and actions that are immoral in other ways. (shrink)
Supererogation and rules.--Problematic responsibility in law and morals.--On being "morally speaking a murderer."--Justice and personal desert.--The expressive function of punishment.--Action and responsibility.--Causing voluntary actions.--Sua culpa.--Collective responsibility.--Crime, clutchability, and individuated treatment.--What is so special about mental illness?