Against Self-Defense

Hereth, Blake. "Against Self-Defense." Social Theory and Practice 43, no. 3 (2017): 613-635.

The ethics of self-defense is dominated by the Orthodox View, which claims that at least some cases of self-defensive assault are permissible. I defend the radical view that the Orthodox View is false. My argument proceeds as follows. Every permissible act of self-defensive assault has the modal property being possibly massively overdetermined. Acts with this property are what I call 'super-permissible'. Such ‘super-permissible’ acts of assault are ones in which agents are objectively permitted to perform those acts in morally trivializing or cavalier fashion: i.e., agents need not ‘think twice’ about inflicting or permitting harm; they are permitted to assault persons as if it were morally insignificant. Yet this is never true, since assaulting persons is always morally serious. It follows that there are no acts of permissible self-defensive assault.

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