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Reading: Self-Defence and Innocent Threats: The Moral Inequivalence of Innocent Threats and Bystanders

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Self-Defence and Innocent Threats: The Moral Inequivalence of Innocent Threats and Bystanders

Author:

Andreas Sorger

About Andreas
Politics and Philosophy graduate. His main fields of interest are Normative and Applied Ethics, alongside the Philosophy of Public Policy.
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Abstract

Many formulations of a self-defence principle run into significant problems when dealing with cases involving innocent threats since no rights violations have occurred. In response, some philosophers have proposed that killing innocent threats in self-defence is impermissible- what I call the impermissibility thesis. This is based on the notion that innocent threats and bystanders are morally equivalent. This essay argues that there is, in fact, a morally relevant distinction between innocent threats and bystanders such that it is not necessarily impermissible to harm the former. This distinction is based on the difference between eliminative and exploitative harms-where the former is deemed more justifiable than the latter. Further, this essay defends this distinction against a recent objection by Michael Otsuka, by arguing for the difference between the right one has to the space one occupies, and the entitlements that come with occupying a space.

How to Cite: Sorger, A., 2017. Self-Defence and Innocent Threats: The Moral Inequivalence of Innocent Threats and Bystanders. Rerum Causae, 9(1), pp.25–43.
Published on 01 Jan 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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