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Regulating Offense, Nurturing Offense

Simpson, RM; (2018) Regulating Offense, Nurturing Offense. Politics, Philosophy and Economics , 17 (3) pp. 235-256. 10.1177/1470594X17741228. Green open access

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Joel Feinberg’s Offense to Others is the most comprehensive contemporary work on the significance of offense in a liberal legal system. Feinberg argues that being offended can impair a person’s liberty, much like a nuisance, and that it is therefore legitimate in principle to regulate conduct because of its offensiveness. In this article, I discuss some overlooked considerations that give us reason to resist Feinberg’s conclusion, even while granting this premise. My key claim is that the regulation of offense can inadvertently increase the incidence of offense, by nurturing offense-taking sensibilities. In the course of defending this claim and spelling out its implications, I explain why concerns about the inadvertent nurturing of offense are now more pressing, given the identity–political character of contemporary offense-based social conflicts, and I discuss why a reluctance to legally regulate offensive conduct need not be insensitive to the identity–political issues that animate those conflicts.

Type: Article
Title: Regulating Offense, Nurturing Offense
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1470594X17741228
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1177/1470594X17741228
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2017. This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Offense, liberalism, free speech, Joel Feinberg
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10042897
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