Dividing Harm

Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (4):547-566 (2011)


In this paper I argue that mere causal contribution to harm is morally significant on two counts: a) innocent aggressors have a duty to bear additional costs to help protect their potential victims, as compared to the duty innocent bystanders are expected to bear, and correspondingly; b) it is permissible to use more force against innocent aggressors, as used in self-defense and defense of others, than innocent bystanders. The paper has two parts. First I aim to demonstrate the intuitive plausibility of this proposal and what I call “the asymmetrical fair share procedure.“ According to this procedure, innocent aggressors have a duty to take on a fair share of the harm if dividing it is possible, and a fair share of the risk of being harmed if redistribution of harm is impossible. In the second part, I develop a contractual account explaining why mere contribution is morally significant

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,694

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

62 (#187,925)

6 months
1 (#388,311)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

Add more references

Similar books and articles

Self-Defense, Innocent Aggressors, and the Duty of Martyrdom.Whitley Kaufman - 2010 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 91 (1):78-96.
Revising the Doctrine of Double Effect.Jeff McMahan - 1994 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 11 (2):201-212.
The Moral Status of Enabling Harm.Samuel C. Rickless - 2011 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (1):66-86.
A Practical Account of Self-Defence.Helen Frowe - 2010 - Law and Philosophy 29 (3):245-272.
Why “Do No Harm”?Virginia A. Sharpe - 1997 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 18 (1-2):197-215.
The Harm Principle.Nils Holtug - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (4):357-389.
Can Contractualism Save Us From Aggregation.Barbara H. Fried - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (1):39-66.
Mortal Harm.Steven Luper - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (227):239–251.