Because harm is an important notion in ethics, it’s worth investigating what it amounts to. The counterfactual comparative account of harm, commonly thought to be the most promising account of harm, analyzes harm by comparing what actually happened with what would have happened in some counterfactual situation. But it faces the preemption problem, a problem so serious that it has driven some to suggest we abandon the counterfactual comparative account and maybe even abandon the notion of harm altogether. This paper defends a version of the counterfactual comparative account that solves the preemption problem, a version called the “worse than nothing account.” It says that you harm someone just in case you leave them worse off than if you’d done nothing at all.
Michael Huemer, Ernest Sosa, and Jonathan Vogel have offered a critique of the sensitivity condition on knowledge. According to them, the condition implies that you cannot know of any particular proposition that you do not falsely believe it. Their arguments rest on the claim that you cannot sensitively believe of any particular proposition that you do not falsely believe it. However, as we shall see, these philosophers are mistaken. You can do so. That said, these philosophers were close to the mark. There are some related propositions that you cannot believe sensitively. These propositions are interesting in another respect: they can be used to construct a new skeptical argument that is superior in some respects to a more traditional skeptical argument. This new skeptical argument also reveals insights about the relationship between internalism, externalism, and skepticism.