, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 289-304
Date: 04 Jul 2009

The Nature and Disvalue of Injury

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Abstract

This paper explicates a conception of injury as right-violation, which allows us to distinguish between setbacks to interests that should, and should not, be the concern of theories of justice. It begins by introducing a hybrid theory of rights, grounded in (a) the mobilisation of our moral equality to (b) protect our most important interests, and shows how violations of rights are the concern of justice, while setbacks where one of the twin grounds of rights is defeated are not. It then looks more closely at the substantive moral components of injury, namely harm—damage to one’s interests—and wrong—disrespect for one’s moral equality. It argues that, on the hybrid conception of rights, harm and wrong are individually necessary and jointly sufficient components of injury, and the disvalue of neither is reducible to the other—in particular, it is a mistake to construe the disrespect identified by wrong as another damaged interest. Finally, it distinguishes between the public and private dimensions of harm and wrong, and makes some preliminary suggestions as to whether the remedy for these different dimensions should lie in criminal, distributive, or corrective justice.

Winner of the 2008 Postgraduate Essay Prize