Standard Article


  1. David Shoemaker

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee467

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Shoemaker, D. 2013. Offense. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Philosophical interest in offense is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it has focused almost exclusively on whether or not offensive conduct ought to be restricted by the liberal state. This essay will explore the nature of offense, its distinction from harm, and the philosophical case for the restriction of offense in public life, primarily by focusing on the pioneering work of Joel Feinberg (1926–2004; see Feinberg, Joel).


  • authority;
  • ethics;
  • feminist philosophy;
  • freedom;
  • government, politics, and law;
  • harm;
  • hate speech;
  • legal and political;
  • liberalism;
  • politics