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Could force be morally used in self-defense against people enabling violations of rights?

Suppose there is a tyrannical politician or a corrupt businessman in a semi-free society like America. The tyrannical politician drafts and campaigns for legislation that blatantly violates the rights of his constituents. The corrupt businessman colludes with the government to destroy his competitors. Suppose that these two people are consciously evil. They know what they are doing is immoral, and they do it because they despise the good. Would it be moral to initiate force against them, i.e. assassinate them? On one hand, they may not have directly initiated force against anyone, but aren't they technically responsible for forcibly violating the rights of hundreds or thousands of people? In that case, wouldn't initiating the use of force against these people be a form of self-defense?

Zak Szalewski , 18.11.2013, 08:53
Idea status: under consideration


legendre007, 20.11.2013, 03:30
Oh, my! :-0

If there are people out there who believe that the answer to this question is "yes," I would ask that they please not go about engaging in such vigilante actions in real life. Doing so would not only bring about horrible consequences for people who behave as vigilantes, but the public would assume that the vigilantes' behavior is representative of those of us who peaceably advocate freedom and would not resort to something so drastic and counterproductive.
Zak Szalewski, 29.11.2013, 23:54
The question actually came to me when I was watching Dexter. The show's about the titular serial serial killer; he only kills other serial killers. It's part of his "code". The show is basically about a psychopath's ethics. I thought, "Hmm, he's killing people that violate other people's rights by murdering them. Murdering someone is extreme. What if the writers abstracted Dexter's code of killing and applied it to politicians or corrupt businessmen, who violate rights in more indirect ways?" This did kind of give me a little inspiration for a short story.

Anyway, think of political figures like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. They were evil leaders of evil political movements and societies. Rand gave a moral justification for free societies attacking dictatorships. I think she said something like, it was permissible for a free society to attack or invade a dictatorship, provided it had a rational interest in doing so. Couldn't you apply that to individuals? After all, it's not the society actually DOING the rights-violations, is it? Individuals within a society are responsible for performing real actions that violate rights. If it is moral to attack a rights-violating society, wouldn't it also be moral to attack or kill rights-violating individuals? Have they abdicated their rights? Aren't some of them directly responsible for the deaths of millions of people?

I dunno. In any case, I thought it'd be an interesting question for Diana to answer.

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