Just War and Self-Defence

Guest Lecture Series “Society: Status Quo and Normative Change”

  • Date: Jul 10, 2023
  • Time: 06:15 PM - 07:45 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Prof. Thom Brooks (Durham Law School)
  • Thom Brooks is Professor of Law and Government at Durham Law School and focuses on a variety of topics, ranging from global and ecological justice to punishment- and legal theory. As one of the main authorities, advising British policy-makers on home affairs and justice policies, especially regarding migration law, he has appeared frequently in television, radio and in print media. Prominently, he was responsible for the wording “leave or remain” (instead of " yes or no") in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Brooks has written 8 books, edited 30 books and published over 150 journal articles or book chapters since 2001. In his early work, he has established himself as one of the leading experts for Hegel’s philosophy of law in the anglosphere. He held visiting appointments at various law schools, including Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University.
  • Location: University of Freiburg
  • Room: Lecture room 3219, University building III Guests are welcome!
  • Host: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law
  • Contact: l.landerer@csl.mpg.de
Just War and Self-Defence
Just war theorising has undergone a renaissance inspired by the ground-breaking work of Jeff McMahan. Central to the new orthodoxy is the claim that self-defence is a right that can justify a right to inflict harm on unlawful aggressors. Crucially, this is a right to inflict harm available to both the victim and others even if these others are not harmed or threatened. This talk explores how this view of just war as self-defence justifying a right to harm is based on a misunderstanding of how self-defence works in criminal law. This alternative view understands self-defence as a kind of defence, such as duress, which might provide an excuse for wrongs and not a justification to do wrong. The talk examines the consequences for just war theorising, such as whether understanding just war as excused sets a higher threshold for justification.
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