Philosophia 46 (2):337-353 (2018)

Hsin-Wen Lee
University of Delaware
In this paper, I propose a new self-defense theory of punishment, the rights-protection theory. By appealing to the interest theory of right, I show that what we call “the right of self-defense” is actually composed of the right to protect our basic rights. The right of self-defense is not a single, self-standing right but a group of derivative rights justified by their contribution to the protection of the core, basic rights. Thus, these rights of self-defense are both justified and constrained by the basic rights they are supposed to protect. I then explain how this theory responds to a common objection. Opponents argue that, to exercise the right of self-defense, some threat must be present. However, in the context of punishment, the threat has already taken effect or is already gone. Thus, the right of self-defense becomes irrelevant when we punish an offender. I show that this objection is based on an implausibly narrow conception of self-defense. A reasonable conception would allow us to exercise our right of self-defense when there is a present definite threat, a future definite threat, or a potential threat. Thus, we may still exercise our right of self-defense in the context of punishment.
Keywords Deterrence  Self-defense  threat  sanction  punishment  the interest theory of rights  the justification problem  general justifying aim  specific deterrence  special deterrence
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11406-017-9931-z
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Defense of Abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
Punishment and Responsibility.H. L. A. Hart - 1968 - Philosophy 45 (172):162-162.
Self-Defense.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1991 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 20 (4):283-310.
Necessity in Self-Defense and War.Seth Lazar - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 40 (1):3-44.

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

An Ethical Framework for Hacking Operations.Ross W. Bellaby - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (1):231-255.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Fortifying the Self-Defense Justification of Punishment.Cogley Zac - forthcoming - Public Affairs Quarterly 31 (4).
Self-Defense, Punishment and Forfeiture.David Alm - 2013 - Criminal Justice Ethics 32 (2):91-107.
Defense.Kai Draper - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):69 - 88.
Animal Rights and Self-Defense Theory.John Hadley - 2009 - Journal of Value Inquiry 43 (2):165-177.
Amartya Sen's Defense of Strong Human Rights.Don Habibi - 2012 - Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion 17:107-141.
In Defense of the Jurisdiction Theory of Rights.Eric Mack - 2000 - The Journal of Ethics 4 (1-2):71-98.
Innocence Lost: A Problem for Punishment as Duty.Patrick Tomlin - 2017 - Law and Philosophy 36 (3):225-254.


Added to PP index

Total views
471 ( #14,822 of 2,421,234 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
112 ( #5,416 of 2,421,234 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes