Joel Feinberg (1984) defined harm as the ‘defeating of an interest’, where the interests of an individual are defined as ‘the range of things in which that individual has a stake’.

Although the influence of bioethics means harm is most often understood in physical and individual terms, it also includes psychological, social, economic, reputational, legal and environmental damage. Those suffering harm may extend beyond the individuals directly participating in the research to include groups, communities, and society at large. In social science research, harm is generally more likely to involve psychological distress, discomfort, social disadvantage, stigma, invasion of privacy or infringement of rights than physical injury.

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