Harm and risks of harm

Change log
Zhou, Yan Kai 

This thesis considers two interrelated questions that have seen a renewed interest in the jurisprudential literature: (1) what does it mean to suffer harm, and (2) do those exposed to a risk of harm suffer harm solely in virtue of that exposure. Part 1 of the thesis provides an answer to the first question. Specifically, in Section 1 of Part 1, I argue that the appropriate baseline for determining whether someone suffers harm is the historical baseline (e.g. a person suffers harm if and only if they are worse off than they were before). Section 2 of Part 1 then argues that the appropriate currency for harm determinations is the concept of wellbeing (e.g. whether someone suffers harm is a question about their level of wellbeing). Part 2 of the thesis provides an answer to the second question. Section 1 of Part 2 begins by exploring the concept of risk itself, and defends a probabilistic conception of risk (e.g. where the risk of an event or state of affairs just is the probability that it will occur or obtain). Section 2 of Part 2 then takes that conception of risk and argues that those exposed to unwanted risks of harm can be said to have suffered harm—on a desire-based account of wellbeing—solely in virtue of that exposure.

Skopek, Jeffrey
John, Stephen
Cane, Peter
harm, risk, wellbeing
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
Cambridge Trust