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In Helen Frowe's book, Defensive Killing, she argues that some cases of seemingly futile self-defense are actually instances of justifiable defense of the victim's honor. This paper explores Frowe's claim, first by isolating the central cases and then by examining her rejection of punitive reasons. From there, the paper examines Frowe's understanding of "defense of honor," ultimately suggesting that Frowe's conception is best construed as action that has expressive, but not defensive, value. From there, I turn to two more general puzzles. First, what if the defender mistakenly believes that she can successfully defend and acts for that reason, but the reason that actually supports her action is not one she is acting in light of? And, second, how ought we to understand the interests of an aggressor who has forfeited his rights?


Helen Frowe, Defensive Killing, self-defense, honor, necessity

Publication Title

Journal of Moral Philosophy

Publication Citation

15 J. Moral Phil. 683 (2018)