This first volume in the four-volume series The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law focuses on the "harm principle," the commonsense view that prevention of harm to persons other than the perpetrator is a legitimate purpose of criminal legislation. Feinberg presents a detailed analysis of the concept and definition of harm and applies it to a host of practical and theoretical issues, showing how the harm principle must be interpreted if it is to be a plausible guide to the lawmaker.
The final volume of Feinberg's four-volume work, The Moral Limits of Criminal Law examines the philosophical basis for the criminalization of so-called "victimless crimes" such as ticket scalping, blackmail, consented-to exploitation of others, commercial fortune telling, and consensual sexual relations.
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?
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 collection concludes with two essays dealing with concepts used in appraising the whole of a person's life: absurdity and self-fulfillment, and their interplay.Dealing with a diverse set of problems in practical and theoretical ethics, ...
I shall be concerned in this paper with some philosophical puzzles raised by so-called “wrongful life” suits. These legal actions are obviously of great interest to lawyers and physicians, but philosophers might have a kind of professional interest in them too, since in a remarkably large number of them, judges have complained that the issues are too abstruse for the courts and belong more properly to philosophers and theologians. The issues that elicit this judicial frustration are those that require the (...) application to border-line cases of such philosophically interesting concepts as acting, causing, and the one that especially interests me, harming. I first became interested in the concept of harming in my work on the moral limits of the criminal law, where I had to come to terms with John Stuart Mill's famous “harm principle”–the principle that it is always a good reason in support of a criminal prohibition, indeed, the only legitimate reason, that it will prevent harm to persons other than the actor. I could not very well criticize that principle until I decided what the word “harm” must mean in its formulation. I gave what I took to be the requisite analysis of harm in my book Harm to Others. Here I wish to improve that analysis, examine its implications for civil as well as criminal liability, and test it on conceptually hard cases, especially cases of prenatal harming, that is, cases in which the wrongful causative conduct occurs before the victim's birth, and the harmed state that is its upshot consists in being born in an impaired condition. (shrink)
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.
The second volume in Joel Feinberg's series The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, Offense to Others focuses on the "offense principle," which maintains that preventing shock, disgust, or revulsion is always a morally relevant reason for legal prohibitions. Feinberg clarifies the concept of an "offended mental state" and further contrasts the concept of offense with harm. He also considers the law of nuisance as a model for statutes creating "morals offenses," showing its inadequacy as a model for understanding "profound (...) offenses," and discusses such issues as obscene words and social policy, pornography and the Constitution, and the differences between minor and profound offenses. (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)
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)