Feinberg- Offense to others
Feinberg starts out by explaining conditions that are not included in the Harm Principle, such conditions are fear, anxiety, disgust, embarrassment, annoyance and etc. He explains that these conditions are not covered in the Harm Principle and a separate and distinct principle is needed. The Offense Principle is then created and states that “it is always a good reason in support of a proposed criminal prohibition that it would probably an effective way of preventing serious offense (as opposed to injury or harm) to persons other than the actor, and that is probably a necessary means to that end” (1). This means that the Offense Principle asserts that the prevention of offensive conduct is the state’s business and something should be done about it.
Later in the text, Feinber describes how one could be offended:
a) a person suffers a disliked state, and
b) they attribute that state to the wrongful conduct of another, and
c) they resent the other for their role in causing them to be in that state.
Feinber addresses the fact that he does not believe that offense is more serious than harm. He says the law should not treat offenses as if they were as serious as harm and it should not attempt to control the offense by the criminal law when it can be dealt with in other modes that are just as effective. However, Feinberg does believe that continued extreme offenses could cause harm to the person who can become so emotionally upset by the offense that they neglect their mental state and real interest.
The law should define extreme offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies and the penalties should be light. Feinber believes that the penalties should be fines or if incarceration is required then they should only be in there for days not months. Only when the crime is harmful and offensive then the punishment can be harsher. A very harmful but minor offensive crime will be punished harder than a crime that is greatly offensive but hardly harmful.
In conclusion, Feinber believes that there needs to be a separate principle for acts that merely bother or offend others and that is called the Offense Principle. There are varying degrees of offense but offense ranks lower than harm when it comes to imprisonment and severity. The state should make preventative efforts of offensive acts just like it did with the Harm Principle.