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Harm is a moral and legal concept.

Bernard Gert construes harm as any of the following:[1]

Joel Feinberg gives an account of harm as setbacks to interests.[2] He distinguishes welfare interests from ulterior interests. Hence on his view there are two kinds of harm.

Welfare interests are

interests in the continuance for a foreseeable interval of one's life, and the interests in one's own physical health and vigor, the integrity and normal functioning of one's body, the absence of absorbing pain and suffering or grotesque disfigurement, minimal intellectual acuity, emotional stability, the absence of groundless anxieties and resentments, the capacity to engage normally in social intercourse and to enjoy and maintain friendships, at least minimal income and financial security, a tolerable social and physical environment, and a certain amount of freedom from interference and coercion.[3]

Ulterior interests are "a person's more ultimate goals and aspirations," such as "producing good novels or works of art, solving a crucial scientific problem, achieving high political office, successfully raising a family . . .".


  1. ^ Gert 2004
  2. ^ Feinberg 1984.
  3. ^ Feinberg 1984, p. 37.


  • Feinberg, Joel. 1984. The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law, Volume 1: Harm to Others. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Bernard Gert, Common Morality, Oxford University Press, 2004.