Joseph Bowen

University of St Andrews

The Interest Theory of Rights & Harmless Wrongdoing: What Else is of Interest?

Academic History:

2010 - 2014 BA in Philosophy with an Approved Year Abroad, University of Kent

2014 - 2016 BPhil in Philosophy, University of Oxford


Dr Rowan Cruft (University of Stirling)

Theron Pummer (University of St Andrews)

Research Interests:

Moral, Political, & Legal Theory. Particularly, Rights Theory & the justifications & the limits of harming. My project examines a range of cases in which we might want to attribute rights (& right-violations) & yet the putative right-holder is not ostensibly harmed by the violation of that right. These cases are known as “harmless wrongdoings”. These cases raise a problem for the Interest Theory of Rights. At first glance, one might think that, to the extent that the agent is not harmed in such cases, an interest cannot be said to be protected by some putative right. The necessary condition set for the ascription of a right on the Interest Theory is not satisfied.


SGSAH AHRC Studentship


  • Keith Jones Prize (Kent)
  • Rotary Prize (Kent)
  • Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics (Oxford)


'Necessity and Liability: On an Honour-Based Justification for Defensive Harming', Journal of Practical Ethics, 4 (2), pp. 79-93 -

Contact Details:

Address: Edgecliffe, 5 The Scores, St Andrews KY16

Work Tel No: 07792 795476



First published: 10 November 2016