Law and Philosophy

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 159-175

First online:

Can Self-Defense Justify Punishment?

  • Larry AlexanderAffiliated withUniversity of San Diego School of Law Email author 

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This piece is a review essay on Victor Tadros’s The Ends of Harm. Tadros rejects retributive desert but believes punishment can be justified instrumentally without succumbing to the problems of thoroughgoing consequentialism and endorsing using people as means. He believes he can achieve these results through extension of the right of self-defense. I argue that Tadros fails in this endeavor: he has a defective account of the means principle; his rejection of desert leads to gross mismatches of punishment and culpability; and he cannot account for punishment of inchoate crimes.