The Principle of Avoidable Harm (a philosophy principle)


I just need to know what the principle of avoidable harm is for a philosophy essay, every definition on google is different and hard to understand. Thank you in advance.

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The Principle of Avoidable Harm is an ethical principle that suggests individuals and institutions should take reasonable steps to avoid causing harm when it is preventable or unnecessary. This principle is based on the idea that moral agents have a responsibility to reduce or eliminate suffering and negative consequences whenever possible. It is closely related to other ethical concepts such as the “do no harm” principle, the precautionary principle, and the principle of non-maleficence.
In various ethical theories and moral frameworks, the Principle of Avoidable Harm is applied in different ways. For example:
Utilitarianism: This consequentialist ethical theory argues that actions are morally right if they maximize overall happiness and minimize overall suffering. From a utilitarian perspective, the Principle of Avoidable Harm suggests that we should choose actions that result in the least amount of harm while maximizing overall well-being.
Deontological ethics: This ethical theory focuses on duties and moral rules, suggesting that some actions are inherently right or wrong regardless of their consequences. In a deontological framework, the Principle of Avoidable Harm may be interpreted as a moral duty to avoid causing harm when it is unnecessary or can be prevented.
Virtue ethics: This ethical approach emphasizes the development of moral character and virtues in individuals. The Principle of Avoidable Harm could be applied in this context as a guideline for cultivating virtues such as compassion, empathy, and prudence, which guide individuals to avoid causing harm when possible.
The Principle of Avoidable Harm can be applied to various contexts, including environmental ethics, medical ethics, animal welfare, and human rights. It serves as a reminder that moral agents should strive to minimize the negative consequences of their actions, particularly when alternatives that cause less harm are available.

Ever hear the phrase “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism”? Modern society is built on exploiting people, so anything you buy has caused harm to someone in the process of creating it or getting it to you. Now, you could choose never to buy anything ever, but then you’d starve (which harms you), so some amount of this harm is unavoidable. However, you can also choose to buy from companies that have unionized labor, use more eco-friendly packaging, etc., and that will reduce the amount of harm involved in your purchase.

Is this something mentioned in your textbook or other class materials? I’ve taken a few philosophy classes and I’ve never heard of ‘The Principle of Avoidable Harm’ as like a proper noun that has an official definition.

Where did you come across this phrase?