When the Risk of Harm Harms

Law and Philosophy 36 (1):77-100 (2017)
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This essay answers two questions that continue to drive debate in moral and legal philosophy; namely, ‘Is a risk of harm a wrong?’ and ‘Is a risk of harm a harm?’. The essay’s central claim is that to risk harm can be both to wrong and to harm. This stands in contrast to the respective positions of Heidi Hurd and Stephen Perry, whose views represent prominent extremes in this debate about risks. The essay shows that there is at least one category of risks – intentional impositions of risk on unconsenting agents – which can be both wrongful and harmful. The wrongfulness of these risks can be established when, on the balance of reasons, one ought not to impose them. The harmfulness of these risks can be established when the risks are shown to set back legitimate interests. In those cases where risks constitute a denial of the moral status of agents, risks set back agents’ interest in dignity. In these ways, the essay shows that there are instances when a risk can constitute both a wrong and a harm.

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Author's Profile

Adriana Placani
Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

Taking luck seriously.Michael J. Zimmerman - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (11):553-576.
Moral luck and the law.David Enoch - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (1):42-54.
Towards a right against risking.John Oberdiek - 2009 - Law and Philosophy 28 (4):367 - 392.
Responsibility for outcomes, risk, and the law of torts.Stephen Perry - 2001 - In Gerald J. Postema (ed.), Philosophy and the Law of Torts. Cambridge University Press. pp. 72--1.

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