Mich: Harm of Sexual Assault: some thoughts on McMahan and Singer's "Who Is the Victim in the Anna Stubblefield Case?"

CHAIRE HOOVER Louvain-La-Neuve

24 avril 2018

12h45 - 13h55


Place Montesquieu 3 D305

Kaoru Ando (University of Kobe)
In their co-authored article for New York Times, Jeff McMahan and Peter Singer suggests that the harm of sexual assault done to people with cognitive impairment is essentially different from the one done to those without cognitive impairment. However, as typical consequentialists recognise the instrumental value of autonomy because (and as long as) it promotes the well-being of the subject and the duty to respect the autonomy of others is essentially the duty to promote the well-being of others, there cannot be any essential distinction between those with and without capacities for autonomous choice in terms of the nature of the harm of sexual assault. The interests of the cognitively impaired deserves not less but more protection for the very reason that they lack capacities for autonomous choice. We mustn't mitigate the punishment of a sexual offence because the victim is cognitively impaired, though it is not so clear in the first place whether the sexual harm itself (distinguished from the harm of physical violence employed in the sexual assault and that of coerced impregnation) is morally significant enough to make the heavy punishment such as long-term imprisonment uncontroversially legitimate, or so I will argue.