Against Moral Taint

Yitzhak Benbaji, Daniel Statman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One motivation for adopting a justice-based view of the right to self-defense is that it seems to solve the puzzle of how a victim may kill her attacker even when doing so is not predicted to protect her from the threat imposed upon her. The paper shows (a) that this view leads to unacceptable results and (b) that its solution to cases of futile self-defense is unsatisfactory. This failure makes the interest-based theory of self-defense look more attractive, both in the context of futile self-defense and in general. To understand how a victim might use force in this context, one need only point to some interest of hers that is threatened, and the best candidate for such interest in cases of futile self-defense is her honor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • McMahan
  • Moral taint
  • Self-defense
  • Øverland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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