[ExI] Religions and violence

Jebadiah Moore jebdm at jebdm.net
Tue Aug 17 04:33:54 UTC 2010

Your two claims contradict each other:

2010/8/16 samantha <sjatkins at mac.com>

> A claim of clear and present danger does not in any way justify the
> initiation of force.  There is a clear and present danger that many people I
> know will invent something quite dangerous that will get lose.  Does that
> mean they should be locked up, shot, or otherwise forcibly prevented just on
> the chance?  No.  Any other entity with enough power to do you damage is in
> principle a clear and present danger.

> After I am wounded and bleeding is rather late to shoot an assailant.  The
> idea of a gun is that you shoot them before they get close enough to do such
> bodily harm.   Most rapist do not get fully naked as all they need to do is
> unzip their fly.    And if someone closes on me with obvious to me intent to
> harm or rape me I will pull the gun and tell him to back off or die IF he is
> far enough away.  Note that a young guy in good shape can close 20 ft or so
> distance in not much more than my reaction time.  So there may not be much
> point in warning if the assailant is much closer than that.

Perhaps by the first you meant that "a claim of clear and present danger
does not always justify the initiation of force".  Which is certainly true,
because it's easy to cook up a claim, even one that seems relatively
plausible.  But surely it's "justifiable" to kill a guy who's got a bomb
strapped to his chest, even if there's the possibility that he might be just

Really, it's a function of the probability of a negative event, and the
degree of negativity of the event; if it's highly probable that someone will
kill you if you don't take action, then I'd say you're justified; if it's
60% probable that someone will blow up an entire city, it's probably
justified.  But it's not a simple question of utility, I don't think,
because there are people who'd say you're not justified in killing a
burglar, or that you're not justified in killing someone who's got a 1% of
destroying everyone (even though that's a weighted utility of 70,000,000
lives).  And of course, there are always varying assessments to keep in
mind--even if you think a guy's gonna kill you with 90% probability, other
people might disagree.

(I'm assuming here that by "justified"/"justifiable", you mean "justifiable
to your conscience and to other people", not "righteous", which is another
matter entirely.)

Jebadiah Moore
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