Location: SMI 105
Observation as Wrongdoing
Professor of Practical Philosophy
Wallenberg Academy Research Fellow
Stockholm University, Sweden
Revenge: After their relationship ends, Adam posts intimate photographs of Brenda on a ‘revenge porn’ website without her consent. Craig visits the website in order to view these sorts of pictures, and sees the pictures of Brenda, whom he does not know.
It is uncontroversial that Adam acts wrongly in posting the photographs. But how should we morally evaluate Craig’s actions? This paper defends the following thesis:
Observation as wrongdoing: With respect to some kinds of wrongdoing, voluntary and unjustified observation of that wrongdoing can wrong the victim.
We reject possible debunking objections that purport to ground apparent wrongness of observation in other wrong-making features, such as the failure to assist, participatory intentions, or mere bad character. We then identify for four ways in which observation of wrongdoing can be wrong: by compounding the primary wrong, by benefitting from injustice, by enabling the primary wrong, or by violating the victim’s right to privacy. We argue that the normative consequences that accrue to primary wrongdoers can similarly accrue to observers. For example, observers might be liable to defensive harm, to punishment, or to compensate the victim.
Helen Frowe is Professor of Practical Philosophy and Wallenberg Academy Research Fellow at Stockholm University, where she directs the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace. She works on moral and political philosophy, specialising on the ethics of permissible harming. Prof. Frowe is also a Research Associate at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and at the Institute for Futures Studies. She has held (or will shortly hold) visiting posts at Rutgers, Harvard, ANU, Shandong University, York University (Canada), the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies, and UC Boulder.