Volume 24, Issue 1, Spring 2017
Why It’s Wrong to Stand Your Ground
Stand Your Ground laws have prompted frequent and sustained legal and ethical reflection on self-defense. Two primary views have emerged in the literature: the Stand Your Ground View and the Retreat View. On the former view, there is no presumptive moral requirement to retreat even if one can do so safely. According to the latter view, there is such a requirement. I offer a novel argument against the Stand Your Ground View. In cases where retreat or the infliction of defensive harm would be equally efficacious in protecting the rights of an individual, one cannot intend either simply as a means, since there is no means-relevant reason for choosing one over the other. Thus, if one intends to inflict defensive harm, one intends the infliction of defensive harm as an end. Because it is always wrong to intend harm for its own sake, there is a presumptive requirement to retreat.