Defending Honor and Beyond: Reconsidering the Relationship between Seemingly Futile Defense and Permissible Harming

Forthcoming Journal of Moral Philosophy (accepted March 3, 2017).

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-34

24 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2018

Date Written: March 3, 2017

Abstract

In Helen Frowe's book, Defensive Killing, she argues that some cases of seemingly futile self-defense are actually instances of justifiable defense of the victim's honor. This paper explores Frowe's claim, first by isolating the central cases and then by examining her rejection of punitive reasons. From there, the paper examines Frowe's understanding of "defense of honor," ultimately suggesting that Frowe's conception is best construed as action that has expressive, but not defensive, value. From there, I turn to two more general puzzles. First, what if the defender mistakenly believes that she can successfully defend and acts for that reason, but the reason that actually supports her action is not one she is acting in light of? And, second, how ought we to understand the interests of an aggressor who has forfeited his rights?

Keywords: self-defense, honor, retreat, necessity, defensive reasons, punishment

Suggested Citation

Ferzan, Kimberly Kessler, Defending Honor and Beyond: Reconsidering the Relationship between Seemingly Futile Defense and Permissible Harming (March 3, 2017). Forthcoming Journal of Moral Philosophy (accepted March 3, 2017).; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3194228

Kimberly Kessler Ferzan (Contact Author)

University of Virginia, School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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