The Ethics of Defending Yourself and What’s Yours Under Incomplete Information

April 14, 2023 - April 15, 2023
Center for Ethics, University of Zürich

Zollikerstrasse 117

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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  • Department of Philosophy, University of Zurich


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Stockholm University
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Warwick


London School of Economics
Stockholm University
University of Zürich

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The Ethics of Defending Yourself and What’s Yours Under Incomplete Information

14-15 April 2023

Hybrid Event with in-person sessions held at the University of Zurich, Switzerland

Ideally, accounts of morally permissible self-defence are action guiding: they helpfully inform our deliberation in cases where we perceive our rights to be at risk of being violated. Accounts of self-defence thus need to engage with typical scenarios in which use of defensive force might be considered. A typical type of threat is the threat to our property rights. Although every one of us is quite likely to face such a threat at some point in their lives, little has been written about what is permissible to do in defence of one’s property. Moreover, a typical feature of all self-defence scenarios is the uncertainty that almost inevitably characterizes these situations. 

In this workshop, we bring together scholars working on the ethics of self-defence to explore questions concerning the permissible defence of one’s property and, more generally, self-defence under conditions of uncertainty. We would like to invite abstracts for papers that broadly engage with these two topics. Possible questions to address include: 

  • Under what conditions, if any, is it morally permissible to defend one’s property with force? 
  • How should we think about the proportionality of force in protection of one’s property?
  • Are current laws (e.g., stand your ground laws in the US or duty to retreat requirements) morally appropriate? 
  • Are rights beyond our rights to bodily integrity and our property enforceable?
  • Where should the line be drawn between reasonable and unreasonable defensive mistakes under conditions of uncertainty? 
  • What are appropriate ways of taking into account the epistemic limitations that defensive agents face?

Please email [email protected] for more information and see accompanying CFP on PhilEvents.

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April 4, 2023, 12:00am CET

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