Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Law
Born, Detroit, USA, 19th October, 1926
Educated at the University of Illinois, University of Michigan (AB 1949, AM 1951, PhD 1957)
1955-1962 Ford Teaching Intern, Instructor then Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Brown University; 1962-1966 Assistant then Associate Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University; 1966-67 Professor of Philosophy at University of California at Los Angeles; 1967-1977 Professor of Philosophy at Rockefeller University; 1977-present Professor of Philosophy at University of Arizona
Main philosophical writings include:
Doing and Deserving: Essays in the Theory of Responsibility. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970.
Social Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1973.
Rights, Justice, and the Bounds of Liberty. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980.
The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law. Four volumes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984-1989. (Vol. I, Harm to Others, 1984; Vol. II, Offense to Others, 1985; Vol. III, Harm to Self, 1986; Vol. IV, Harmless Wrongdoing, 1988.)
Freedom and Fulfillment. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1992.
Main editorial work includes:
Reason and Responsibility. Belmont, Cal.: Wadsworth, 1965. (Eighth Edition, 1992.)
Moral Concepts. Oxford Studies in Philosophy series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970.
The Problem of Abortion. Belmont, Cal.: Wadsworth, 1973. (Second Edition, 1983).
(with Hyman Gross) Philosophy of Law. Belmont, Cal.: Wadsworth, 1975. (Fourth Edition, 1990.)
Coleman, Jules L. and Buchanan, Allen (eds). In Harm's Way: Essays in Honor of Joel Feinberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Liberalism, the view that individual freedom is of preeminent value, has been the core topic of Feinberg's very influential work. In particular he has been concerned with liberal justifications for the state's imposing criminal sanctions on individuals' conduct. Feinberg adopts a moderate liberalism. Like strict liberals, he accepts that it is permissible to make it a crime for agents to cause wrongful harm to others, e.g. rape, but goes further in arguing that the state may also impose criminal sanctions against causing extreme offence to others, e.g. the displaying of Nazi emblems. By contrast, he argues that it is not permissible to have criminal sanctions against agents' causing harm to themselves or simply acting immorally. Nor should there be criminal sanctions requiring some conduct just because of the benefits, to the agent or others, that arise from it.
In developing his liberalism, Feinberg has also done important work on a large number of related topics, including those of freedom, harm, punishment, responsibility, rights, abortion and pornography.
Sources: Who's Who in America, Dictionary of American Scholars
17th March 1995
Robert L. Frazier