Workshop on Jonathan Quong's forthcoming book"The Morality of Defensive Force"

09 15 Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen
10 30 Lars Christie
11 45 Kim Ferzan
13 00 Lunch
14 00 Jakob Elster
15 15 Jonathan Parry
16 30 Camilla Serck-Hanssen
17 40 End of workshop
Jonathan Quong
When is it morally permissible to engage in self-defense or the defense of others? Jonathan Quong defends a variety of novel ideas in this book about the morality of defensive force, providing an original philosophical account of the central moral principles that should regulate its use. We cannot understand the morality of defensive force, he reasons, until we ask and answer deeper questions about how the use of defensive force fits with a more general account of justice and moral rights. In developing this stance, Quong presents new views on liability, proportionality, and necessity. He argues that self-defense can sometimes be justified on the basis of an agent-relative prerogative to give greater weight to one's own life and interests, contrary to the dominant view in the literature. Additionally Quong develops a novel conception of individual rights against harm. Unlike some, who believe that our rights against harm are fact-relative, he argues that our rights against being harmed by others must, in certain respects, be sensitive to the evidence that others can reasonably be expected to possess. The book concludes with Quong's extended defense of the means principle, a principle that prohibits harmfully using other persons' bodies or other rightful property unless those persons are duty bound to permit this use or have otherwise waived their claims against such use.

Kim Ferzan "Quong and the Means Principle,"
The means principle plays a central role in Quong's theory, but I believe that Quong fails to defend it robustly and to demonstrate its contours fully.  I want to raise some questions about how Quong understands the principle, the ways in which it may be too strong, and perhaps most importantly, the ways in which it is too weak.   

Kasper Lippert Rasmussen "Quong on liability to defensive harm"
In my presentation I pursue two aims. First, I assess the strength of Quong's critiques of the culpability and the moral responsibility accounts of liability to defensive harm. I argue that they are inconclusive and, in particular, that "distributivist" views of liability to defensive harm have the resources to defeat the objections he presents. Second, I take a look at his own ingenious and competing account of liability to defensive harm, the moral status account. I identify some points where I would like to hear more about how exactly one should understand it, and some potential objections. 

Lars Christie "The relevance of culpability to proportionality in defensive harming"
In this talk, I present one internal and one external objection to Quong’s view on the irrelevance of culpability to proportionality. While Quong denies the relevance of culpability to proportionality, he accepts that it is wrong to impose harm on a non-culpable threatener when one could have imposed harm on a culpable threatener instead. Quong justifies the latter claim by appeal to desert. I argue that this gives rise to an internal tension in Quong’s view because the desert-based justification cannot be limited to the situation Quong applies it to. Insofar as the appeal to desert is convincing, the same appeal to desert can be used to justify imposing more harm on culpable threateners than on non-culpable threateners. However, rather than extending the desert based justification Quong offers, I argue that the appeal to desert in the context of defensive harming should be rejected.  This leaves us with the choice of granting culpability a non-desert based role in defensive harming or reject the role of culpability in defensive harming altogether. In the latter part of the talk, I pursue the first alternative and explore how culpability can be granted a role in defensive harming without appeal to desert.

Jakob Elster "Self-defense, property and distributive justice"
One of the themes of Jonathan Quong’s forthcoming book “The Morality of Defensive Force” is that the moral theory of defensive force must rely on a broader theory of distributive justice, which tells us which rightful claims we have over our bodies and our property. I will discuss this theme, concentrating on the issue of the just distribution of property: First, I will argue that, pace Quong, “property rights are different”. Allowing property rights to influence our moral theory of self-defense amounts to allowing, in Michael Walzer’s terms, one distributive sphere to dominate another distributive sphere in a way which gives unfortunate results. Next, I will explore the implications of the relation between distributive justice and self-defense for using Quong’s theory of self-defense in non-ideal theory.

Jonathan Parry  "The Scope of the Means Principle"
One of the central contributions of Quong’s The Morality of Defensive Force is its detailed articulation and defence of the Means Principle, which holds that there is an especially stringent constraint on harmfully using persons. In this paper, I focus on Quong’s account of the scopeof the means principle. First, I consider Quong’s treatment of harmful omissions under the Means Principle. On Quong’s view, failures to aid only falls within the scope of the Means Principle if the subject of the omission has a right to be aided. I argue that this proviso generates some highly counter-intuitive results: there are clear cases of wrongful use that Quong’s Means Principle fails to capture. Second, I consider Quong’s extension of the scope of the Means Principle to include harmful uses of persons’ rightful property. As Quong points out, this means that the Means Principle (and the morality of defensive harm more generally) is parasitic on an independent theory of our just entitlements over the physical world. I (tentatively) suggest that the inclusion of property with the Means Principle may itselfconstrain our distributive entitlements. Third, I make the case for extending the Means Principle along a different dimension. Whereas Quong emphasises our authority over parts of the material world, I suggest that we have structurally similar moral powers with respect to the parts of the normative realm. More specifically, we have control rights over moral reasons grounded in our own good or wellbeing, and others commit a use-based or opportunistic wrong against us by acting for those reasons against our will. I argue that this idea provides an attractive account of the distinctive wrong of paternalism (and contrast it with Quong’s own view). 
Camilla Serck Hanssen TBA


Lars Christie
Published May 27, 2019 9:27 AM - Last modified Dec. 13, 2019 12:28 PM