In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. New York: Wiley-Blackwell (2001)

Suzanne Uniacke
Charles Sturt University
The use of force in self-defense is widely regarded as morally justified. Perhaps for this reason self-defense received only sporadic attention in Western philosophy until relatively recently. In the thirteenth century St. Thomas Aquinas (see Aquinas, Saint Thomas) needed to reconcile permissible self-defense with his view that a private person must not kill intentionally; he sought to do this by distinguishing between intended, as opposed to (merely) foreseen, effects of an action and thus laid the basis of the doctrine of double effect (see Doctrine Of Double Effect). Several sixteenth- and seventeenth-century philosophers discussed self-defense. Thomas Hobbes regarded self-defense as a fundamental and inalienable right (see Hobbes, Thomas). Others addressed self-defense within civil society and in relation to just war (see Natural Law; Just War Theory, History of; Locke, John; Grotius, Hugo; Pufendorf, Samuel Von).
Keywords legal and political  practical ethics  applied ethics
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