The Boundaries of Proper Self-Defense
Webcast Q&A: Sunday, 3 July 2011, Question 2
In the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on 3 July 2011, I answered a question on the boundaries of proper self-defense.
Is it moral to not defend yourself if you will get into legal trouble for doing so? As I understand laws on self-defense, you must be "in immediate danger of death or grievously bodily harm" in order to use lethal force. How is this reconciled with the morality of "shooting before he shoots you" or "hitting before you get hit"? In other words, preemptive attack may be seen as assault, but there might also be a threat of force. Is it moral to not defend yourself to avoid assault charges? In the case of using a gun to defend yourself, this could mean the difference between you dying at the hands of your attacker or living, but going to jail for murder. What should you do?
My Answer, In Brief: It is morally and legally proper to defend yourself, under certain conditions. As Boston T. Party explains, "Lethal force is valid only against a reasonably perceived immanent and grievous threat. The jury must agree that your assailant had the capability, opportunity, and obvious intent to immanently cause you at least grievous bodily harm.”
- Download: MP3 Segment
- Duration: 16:20
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- Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party
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About Philosophy in Action Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My dissertation defended moral responsibility and moral judgment against the doubts raised by Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
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