Is It Ever Wrong To Do Nothing?


  • Brian Lamb


Introduction:  In Mark, chapter four, Fran raises the question of whether crimes are condemned because we don't like people to commit them, or because we don't like what people do and so call them crimes.  There are some clear examples of each case in the sphere of actions, but the question becomes more difficult in the sphere of inaction.  John Stuart Mill says in chapter 1 of On Liberty, . . . A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.  The latter case (injury caused by inaction**) it is true, requires a much more cautious exercise of compulsion than the former.  To make anyone answerable for doing evil to others is the rule; to make him answerable for not preventing evil is, comparatively speaking, the exception . . . (Mill, On Liberty, p. 957)


How to Cite

Lamb, B. (2014). Is It Ever Wrong To Do Nothing?. Analytic Teaching, 6(2). Retrieved from