Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
William A Edmundson - Committee Chair
George Rainbolt - Committee Member
Peter Lindsay - Committee Member
An instrumental defense of a right to do wrong is plausible because we cannot directly intervene in an individual's choices so as to effectively promote that individual's moral good, if her moral good is conceived as being some form of individual autonomy. An epistemic defense is also plausible if we reorient J.S. Mill's epistemological argument for his Harm Principle in "On Liberty" to center on the agent's knowledge, rather than on the interfering observer's knowledge. Restrictions on harmless acts that are imposed because the acts are wrong are only justifiable to that individual if she herself knows that her acts are wrong. Both approaches depend upon the limited subjectivity and fallibility of the agent or interfering observer. Moreover, both approaches make the justification for a right to knowingly do wrong problematic.
Wright, Thomas, "Subjectivity and Fallibility in the Instrumental and Epistemic Defenses of a "Right to Do Wrong"" (2010). Philosophy Theses. Paper 67.