Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117 (3):231-252 (2017)
AbstractTheories of self-defence tend to invest heavily in ‘liability justifications’: if the Attacker is liable to have defensive violence deployed against him by the Defender, then he will not be wronged by such violence, and selfdefence becomes, as a result, morally unproblematic. This paper contends that liability justifications are overrated. The deeper contribution to an explanation of why defensive permissions exist is made by the Defender’s non-liability. Drawing on both canonical cases of self-defence, featuring Culpable Attackers, and more penumbral cases of self-defence, involving Non-Responsible Threats, a case is assembled for the ‘Non-Liability First Account’ of self-defence.
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