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.

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