Although it is an unavoidable aspect of any self-defense situation, risk is an underdeveloped concept in the self-defense literature. In this paper, I argue that the existence of objective risk can justify the use of self-defense, even in cases in which defensive action is not clearly necessary. To accomplish this, I first introduce the concept of risk, seeking a definition that incorporates both objective and subjective elements in a manner appropriate to a discussion of self-defense. In section two, I make a case for the appropriate way to carry out and apply risk analysis in self-defense situations, addressing questions of perspective, types of threats, and availability of alternatives to the use of defense of force. Based on this discussion, I suggest that it is unjust to require a person to take on extra risk when that risk can be transferred to the person responsible for the creation of the risk. In section three, I discuss some significant implications the consideration of risk as suggested by my analysis has for current approaches to self-defense doctrine. Most importantly, my analysis indicates that self-defense can be justified even if using violent force against an aggressor is not strictly necessary.
Preferred Citation Style (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.)
"An Application of Risk Analysis to the Doctrine of Self-Defense,"
The Hilltop Review: Vol. 11
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/vol11/iss1/4