Sunday, June 26, 2011

From the Esteemed Pufendorf -- Self-defense

"To Self-Preservation, which not only the tenderest Passion, but the exactest Reason recommends to Mankind, belongs Self-Defence, or the warding off such Evils or Mischiefs as tend to our hurt, when offer'd by other Men. This Defence of our selves may be undertaken two ways, either without hurting him, who designs the Mischief against us; or else by hurting or destroying him.  As to the former Expedient, no sensible Man can question, but that it is altogether lawful, and blameless.  But concerning the latter, many have entertain'd a Scruple; in as much as putting it in Practice we hurt or destroy a Man like our selves, with whom we are oblig'd to live in a Social manner, and whose Death seems to be as great a Loss to Mankind, as our own.  And besides, because a forcible Repulse of an Aggressor, may cause more Disturbances and Outrages in human Society, than if we should either decline the Mischief by Flight, or patiently yield our Body to it, when an escape is impossible.  Yet that the Defence of our selves may not only be undertaken the first of these ways, but when that proves ineffectual, even with the Hurt of the Assailant, we are inform'd as well byt he Judgment of Reason, as by the concurring Testimony of the Learned and Unlearned World.  'Tis True Man was created for the maintaining of Peace with his Fellows, and all the Laws of Nature which bear a regard to other Men, do primarily tend towards the Constitution and the Preservation of this Universal Safety and Quiet.  Yet Nature is not backward in giving us an Indulgence to fly even to Force, when we cannot by other means secure our selves from Injuries and Assaults.  For the Obligation to the Exercise of the Laws of Nature and the Offices of Peace, is mutual, and binds all Men alike; neither hath Nature given any Person such a distinct Privilege, as that he may break these Laws at his Pleasure, towards others, and the others be still oblig'd to maintain the Peace towards him.  But the Duty being Mutual, the Peace ought to be mutually observ'd.  And therefore when another, contrary to the Laws of Peace attempts such things against me, as tend to my Destruction, it would be the highest Imprudence in him to require me at the same time to hold his Person as Sacred and Inviolate: That is, to forego my own Safety, for the sake of letting him practice his Malice with Impunity.  But since in his Behaviour towards me he shows himself unsociable, and so renders himself unfit to receive from me the Duties of Peace, all my Care and Concern ought to be how to effect my own Deliverance from his hands; which if I cannot accomplish without his Hurt, he may impute the Mischief to his own Wickedness, which put me under this Necessity.  For otherwise, all the Goods which we enjoy by the Gift of Nature, or by the Procurement of our own Industry, would have been granted us in vain, if it were unlawful for us to oppose those in a forcible manner, who unjustly invade them.  And honest Men would be expos'd a ready Prey to Villains, if they were never allow'd to make use of Violence in resisting their Attacks. So that upon the whole, to banish Self-defence though pursued by Force, would be so far from promoting the Peace, that it would rather contribute to the Ruine and Destruction of Mankind.  Nor is it to be imagin'd that the Law of Nature, which was instituted for a Man's Security in the World, should favour so absurd a Peace, as must necessarily cause his present Destruction, and would in fine, produce any Thing sooner than a sociable Life."

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