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Doing and Allowing Harm$
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Fiona Woollard

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199683642

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199683642.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 July 2021

Removing Barriers

Removing Barriers

(p.62) 4 Removing Barriers
Doing and Allowing Harm

Fiona Woollard

Oxford University Press

This is the third part of the analysis of the doing/allowing distinction. Non-substantial facts are normally simply background conditions and do not count as part of the sequence leading to the harm. Yet, in some situations, a non-substantial fact can count as part of the sequence leading to harm: the fact counts as relatively substantial. In this case, an agent counts as doing harm even though the agent has merely removed a barrier to harm. It discusses Jeff McMahan’s account of the removal of barriers and suggests some modifications to his view. Removal of a barrier counts as doing harm if and only if (a) the barrier belongs to the victim or to a third party who has given, or would give, valid authorization for the barrier to be used to protect the victim or (b) the victim has the strongest non-need based claim on the barrier. In such cases the normally non-substantial fact that the barrier is absent counts as relatively substantial, so the relevant fact about the agent is part of the sequence leading to harm.

Keywords:   doctrine of doing and allowing, removal of barriers, Jeff McMahan

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