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The Ends of HarmThe Moral Foundations of Criminal Law$
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Victor Tadros

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199554423.001.0001

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Defending the Means Principle

Defending the Means Principle

(p.112) (p.113) 6 Defending the Means Principle
The Ends of Harm

Victor Tadros

Oxford University Press

One central objection to general deterrence as a justification of punishment is that it is wrong to harm offenders as a means to the greater good. This requires us to evaluate the principle that it is wrong to harm people as a means and to explore its limits. This chapter defends the means principle as a general moral principle. It is argued that the means principle provides the only plausible account of some deeply held convictions about the restrictions that there are on harming people. Whilst it is difficult to find a very clear independent argument for the principle, we can find some grounds to defend it. Endorsing the means principle is essential to maintaining a certain kind of moral status. Were the means principle not a valid principle we would all in principle be available for use as tools to the good of others. As autonomous agents we ought not to be available for use in that way. It is also suggested that there are exceptions to the principle grounded in the enforceable duties that people have.

Keywords:   means principle, inviolability, agent-relativity, trolley problem, moral status

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