A Difficulty Concerning Compensation

Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3):329-337 (2013)

Authors
Saul Smilansky
University of Haifa
Abstract
We sometimes harm people legitimately, by standing in front of them in the queue at the cinema and buying the last available ticket, for instance, or by acting in self-defense. If we harm them illegitimately, however, we ostensibly have a moral obligation to compensate them for the harm done. And the more we harm them, the greater the compensation that, prima facie, we need to offer. But if the harm increases further, at some point we will need to offer less compensation. Yet more harm, and it is quite likely that no compensation at all will be morally expected. In such situations, the greater the harm, the better off we will be, morally, in one important respect. This is morally absurd but, I claim, true, and it does not appear to have received significant philosophical attention. I explore the issue
Keywords harm   existential paradox   compensation   moral paradox   forgiveness   Teflon immorality
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DOI 10.1163/17455243-4681021
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