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Provocateurs and Their Rights to Self‑Defence
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0164-7362
2019 (English)In: Criminal Law and Philosophy, ISSN 1871-9791, E-ISSN 1871-9805, Vol. 13, no 1, p. 165-185Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A provocateur does not pose a threat of harm. Hence, a forceful response to provocation is generally considered wrongful. And yet, a provocateur is often denied recourse to a self-defence justification if she defends herself against such a violent response. In recent work, Kimberly Ferzan argues that a provocateur forfeits defensive rights but this forfeiture cannot be explained in the same way as an aggressor’s rights forfeiture. Ordinarily, one forfeits the right not to be harmed and to self-defend against harm by threatening to violate another person’s rights. But provocateurs forfeit their defensive rights because they bring about the situation in which defence becomes necessary. As I argue here, positing these two types of forfeiture justifications is neither desirable nor necessary. I suggest a unified rights forfeiture account that grounds rights forfeiture in moral responsibility for an unjust threat. My account offers clearer distinctions than alternative unified accounts, which I briefly discuss. Furthermore, the account can provide better explanations of intuitively plausible judgements. A provocateur will have less extensive defensive rights than an innocent victim, but will not lose all her defensive rights simply because ‘she started it.’

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 13, no 1, p. 165-185
Keywords [en]
Provocation, Rights forfeiture, Self-defence, Actio libera in causa
National Category
Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159839DOI: 10.1007/s11572-018-9464-yISI: 000464843100009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-159839DiVA, id: diva2:1246232
Available from: 2018-09-07 Created: 2018-09-07 Last updated: 2019-05-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Victims of War
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Victims of War
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In my thesis, I explore the moral status of different types of agents who suffer harm. I seek to determine whether these agents are victims of wrongful harm, that is, whether they had a right not to suffer harm. Since a victim has certain claims on others - including claims to aid or compensation, to the punishment of the victimizer, or to an apology - it is important to establish who counts as a victim and how victims’ claims compare in strength. In the thesis, I consider the moral status of accomplices, risk-takers and provocateurs, and explore the extent to which such people might lack rights against harm. I also consider the comparative status of victims of unjustified harm and victims of justified harm. I focus on these types of agents because their victimhood is challenged by recent arguments in the literature. I show that some of these arguments unjustifiably weaken or deny a sufferer’s victimhood and her concomitant rights.

In the first paper, I argue that accomplices, those who contribute to but do not directly pose a threat, often forfeit rights to a lesser extent than principal wrongdoers who pose the threat. Treating accomplices as morally on par with principals would often wrong them. I offer an account that helps to determine the extent to which an accomplice lacks rights against harm. In the second paper, I argue against the view that taking a risk of suffering a wrongful harm diminishes the strength of one’s right against the harm. Risk-takers compromise their rights only if their risk-taking imposes unjustifiable costs. In the third paper, I argue that provocateurs are similar to agents who contribute to another’s wrongful threat. In contrast to wrongdoers who forfeit their rights in proportion to the threat they pose, provocateurs often forfeit rights only against a lesser harm. Treating provocateurs as morally on par with wrongdoers would therefore wrong them. Lastly, I consider innocent victims of justified harm and innocent victims of unjustified harm. I argue that the stringency of their claims to compensation does not differ. I thereby push back against arguments that want to see the perceived differential moral residue of justified and unjustified harm reflected in the victim’s compensation claim. In order to defend my conclusion, I discuss the grounds on which compensation is owed to innocent victims of justified harm in the fourth paper.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 2019. p. 25
Keywords
ethics of war, rights, harm, victimhood, complicity, risk, provocation, compensation
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-165896 (URN)978-91-7797-599-1 (ISBN)978-91-7797-598-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-03-23, hörsal 7, hus D, Stockholm University, Universitetsvägen 10D, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2019-02-27 Created: 2019-02-06 Last updated: 2019-02-19Bibliographically approved

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