David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Law and Philosophy 25 (3):377-386 (2006)
We all agree on the justification of defending ourselves or others in some situations, but we do not often agree on why. Two main views compete: subjectivism and objectivism. The discussion has mainly been held in normative terms. But every theory must pass a previous test: logical consistency. It has recently been held that, at least in the case of defending others from aggression, objective theories lead, in some situations, to normative contradiction. My aim is to challenge the idea that only objective theories have this uncomfortable feature. In fact, any plausible theory justifying the defense of others, whether subjectively or objectively, can lead to situations of normative inconsistency. Therefore, the logical test is not the most fitting one for choosing between different theories of private defense.
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