What is our

Mission

We want to develop an actual philosophical model of harm reduction

Many of us came to harm reduction out of necessity, idealism, or both. We don’t kid ourselves that the real work of harm reduction is performed through the daily struggle of individuals and communities. At the same time, we believe that exploring the philosophical foundations of harm reduction can benefit the movement and the lives of people.

The Philosophy of Harm Reduction is an oppotunity to discuss, describe, and imagine the philosophy of harm reduction. (Note: 'philosophy' is seperate/different from the operating 'Principles of Harm Reduction'
First, we want to clarify what we feel to be true. What are the ethical and philosophical assumptions behind slogans such as “any positive change”? What vision of the world are we advocating for?
Second, we believe that part of the reason people who use drugs are often treated terribly are faulty conceptions of morality, the mind, and the meaning of existence. As others have recognized, these conceptions go back centuries to the time of Socrates. By grasping this history, we hope to deconstruct stigmatizing worldviews in the present. Third, we want to examine the way harm reduction echoes discussions found in the history of ideas, which includes but is not limited to Buddhism, pragmatism, utilitarianism, and the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus. We hope to show that harm reduction is not just an ephemeral movement but part of a rich tradition of rational care.
The unexamined movement is not worth moving
Socrates (paraphrased)
Finally, we want to consider how harm reduction, like philosophy, may be a way of life.
This is a project for the whole community. The originators of this project do not claim to know exactly what’s going on at the intersection of philosophy and harm reduction. Rather, we want to meet you there and see what we can come up with. To get started, please complete our Philosophy of Harm Reduction survey, read some of the articles highlighted on the site, or shout out your truth.

Who is funding this?

In short, no one. This is a project by a handful of harm reduction advocates who have an interest in philosophy and social change. The work is done in our own time.
We also would not want this to be a funded project. There are far better ways to spend money when it comes to supporting harm reduction. Money should be used to buy equipment, supply naloxone, or pay peers for their valuble time.
  • “Be curious, not judgemental.”

    Walt Whitman
  • “No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail harms many times greater than the pleasures themselves.”

    Epicurus
  • “The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety.”

    Goethe
  • “Harm reduction, not just for other people”

    Urban Survivors’ Union