Rebuilding the Harm Principle: Using an Evolutionary Perspective to Provide a New Foundation for Justice

Ed Gibney*, Tanya Wyatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Following Mill’s (1859) definition, the ‘harm principle’ came to dominate legal debates about crime and the appropriate response of the justice system, effectively replacing official talk of morality in modern secular societies. However, the harm principle has collapsed without an accepted definition of harm or a method to adjudicate between competing claims. To address this, we propose a definition of ‘good’ derived from evolutionary perspectives. From this, a universal goal for society can be recognised, specific objectives to reach that goal can be listed, and a new definition for harm can be used to repair the harm principle and restore its ability to underpin criminal law and the principles of justice in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-115
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Volume9
Issue number3
Early online date5 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

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