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Harm and Culpability$
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A. P. Simester and A. T. H. Smith

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198260578

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260578.001.0001

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Extending the Harm Principle: ‘Remote’ Harms and Fair Imputation

Extending the Harm Principle: ‘Remote’ Harms and Fair Imputation

Chapter:
(p.259) 12 Extending the Harm Principle: ‘Remote’ Harms and Fair Imputation
Source:
Harm and Culpability
Author(s):

Andrew von Hirsch

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260578.003.0020

Formerly, proposals to extend the reach of the criminal law often were rationalised on paternalistic grounds, or on grounds of the conduct's supposed ‘sinfulness’. Such efforts could be challenged by appealing to the harm principle — that is, the requirement that the conduct involved be harmful to others. What limitations of principle should there be upon the invocation of more ‘remote’ forms of risk, as grounds for criminalisation? This chapter deals with remote harm and fair imputation. It describes a mode of analysis which focuses on the likelihood and magnitude of a remote risk, and on certain countervailing concerns and constraints. This approach has by now become sufficiently established to merit being termed the ‘Standard’ Harms Analysis. The chapter also considers the distinction between criminal prohibitions applicable to the general public and those which deal with more specialised activities. It argues why it is important to develop fair-imputation principles when dealing with remote risks.

Keywords:   criminal law, harm principle, fair imputation, remote harm, remote risks, criminalisation, Standard Harms Analysis, criminal prohibitions

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