in War and Self-Defense

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780199257744
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601811 | DOI:

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This chapter explores the logical structure of rights and the right of self-defence. Drawing on jurist Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld’s theory of rights, it argues that self-defence is a justification, a feature which explains why a normally prohibited act becomes either not impermissible or is a positive good. The justification of self-defence consists in a simple Hohfeldian liberty to commit homicide (or a lesser assault). The exceptional nature of the liberty together with its recurring and readily identifiable nature enables it to function as a genuine right within legal and moral normative systems.

Keywords: right; self-defence; justification; liberty; homicide

Chapter.  7136 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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