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Economists and philosophers working on problems of rational choice have for some time been concerned with various puzzles raised by so-called "Ullysean" configurations: actors who rationally cause themselves to act irrationally. (e.g., the person who swallows Thomas Schelling's famous irrationality pill to preempt an attempted robbery). What has attracted less attention is that these configurations present fascinating problems for morality, most especially for non-consequentialist morality. This article undertakes the exploration of some of these problems and the implications they hold for the morality of preemptive detention, preemptive self-defense, the creation of prophylactic crimes (like our drug laws) and a variety of other preemptive practices.


Legal Philosophy, Philosophy, Jurisprudence

Publication Title

Legal Theory

Publication Citation

5 Legal Theory 339 (1999).