On Self Defence

Most humans act rationally most of the time: this is the foundation upon which democracy, the free market and the rule of law are all built. Our society flourishes under the assumption that other human beings generally have reasons for their actions. If Coca Cola, for example, notice their sales dropping then they will investigate pricing, availability, advertising and competition: they won’t just write it off as people behaving irrationally.

For the same reason, if I am attacked by another person, I will ask myself: “Why has this person made the decision that I deserve an ass-whupping, and what were the reasons for this decision?”

Firstly, it’s not impossible that I may deserve it.

Secondly, they may be doing it because they’re afraid of me and feel the need to strike first. Again, backing off is the right thing to do here, as responding with self-defence would only make it worse. I’ve written before about people being afraid of me and I may well do so again.

Thirdly, they may be doing it because they feel the need to violently express dominance. This probably needs an essay to itself, but suffice to say that if someone is so pitifully small that they feel ennobled by being able to impose their will violently upon another person, then they’re welcome to it.

Finally, they may be following orders. Anyone who follows an order to hurt another human being deserves my contempt, not my pity; and I have no intention of making it easier for them by allowing them to feel that they were defending themselves.

In no case do I see a situation where self defence is justified.




2 thoughts on “On Self Defence

  1. I’m also confused about your definition of self defence, probably.

    If someone quite clearly wants to kill you, then I think defending yourself is quite justifiable. I highly doubt you don’t have a utility preference to you being alive. So I assume you mean “self defence in situations where the act against which you are defending would have no long term consequences”, but even then you are presuming to be able to anticipate the psychological consequences of receiving a beating, which could be trivial or could be pretty bad.

    Finally, some fraction of people are violent and will attack and kill other people. If you don’t want to defend yourself, and you advocate for people not to defend themselves, someone (typically the police) needs to. This works fine for white men like us (I am making the assumption that you are white based on previous posts, sorry if I am wrong) who can trust the police to generally be on their side (although that is not even always the case: see protests). But if you’re in a community who knows they can’t trust the police to protect them, and who might even be in danger *from* the police, then what option beyond self defence is there?


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