Morally Permissible Risk Imposition and Liability to Defensive Harm

Wednesday 2 May 2018, 4.00PM5.30pm

Speaker(s): Susanne Burri, London School of Economics

‘Morally Permissible Risk Imposition and Liability to Defensive Harm’

In this paper, I examine whether an agent can become liable to possibly lethal defensive harm if they morally permissibly choose to engage in a foreseeably risk-imposing activity that subsequently results in a threat of harm to an innocent other. I first investigate how we should best make sense of the notion of a foreseeably risk-imposing activity. I propose that whenever an agent may permissibly choose to engage in an activity only if she abides by certain duties of care, this renders the activity foreseeably risk-imposing. I then discuss whether an agent can become liable to defensive harm by engaging in such an activity. Those who answer this question in the affirmative argue that it is less unjust if the agent, as opposed to her victim, has to suffer harm that is a result of the agent’s choices. I show that this justificatory rationale is forceful only in the presence of demanding background assumptions.

Location: Department of Philosophy, Sally Baldwin Building, Block A, Room SB/A009

Admission: Departmental colloquium members and postgraduate students