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Definition - Self Defense

 
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Nei
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 5:18 am    Post subject: Definition - Self Defense Reply with quote

Malak, Karise, and myself concluded the trial of the case brought forward by Jenna Gwent and realized that we must define self-defense. Where is the line drawn, and even in self-defense is it okay to kill or attack and to what degree. We managed to get around the subject in the case on account of witness verification. However, this issue will come up again and must be clear for us to more easily make a decision.

My take on the issue: Self defense is only when one is directly physically or magically attacked my another. In the instance that one is attacked, I feel that they should exhaust their peaceful options before resorting to violence. If somebody is killed in self-defense as defined above then the defender cannot be held accountable for the attacker's death. There is more to this topic that I haven't addressed, but I think this needs to be argued out. So let the posting begin.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When any action threatens my life, and I take offensive action to stop it, that is self defense.
Healing of the person or monster I am fighting, casting buffs onto it, making it invisible, aiding it in battle against me, robbing me. These are all actions that I consider allow my offensive action to be in self-defense.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aye....here is an example of going PAST self-defense.....
A halfling rouge decides to pickpocket a ranger in the Kravenwood Lowlands, and succesfully does so. He gets a small prize, such as a greatsword plus 3. The ranger does not notice anything until he checks his pack and sees it is gone. He immediately attacks the halfling,disarms BOTH of his weapons, wtihout any proof that he stole from the ranger. The halfling comes back to talk it over, and before that happens the ranger attacks him again. This repeats over and over until finally, one of the halfling's friends convinces the ranger to talk it over.


OoC: This is a true story, when I used to play my halfling rouge. The ranger was Laz Stormarrow, and he killed me a total of 5 times before he agreed to talk....This is a good example of going PAST self-defense.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This discussion is indeed needed.
I think we need to find a simple and clear definition for "self defense" so that we can identify it easily in future cases.

In my opinion, any action taken in order to defend one's own physical integrity is an act of self defense.
A person who hasnt done nothing, and suddenly is attacked either directly or undirectly (the example of healing and helping a monster that is fighting the other person), has the right to defend him/herself.
Of course self defense shouldnt be taken to extremes... the victim should only try to keep the aggressor away and dissuade him of his actions. Killing the aggressor is an action that should only be done when no other solution is available.

Let us keep this discussion going until we reach a good conclusion.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2003 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitional and conceptual issues are among the most vexing and much depends on their resolution. It has been my experience that people tend to find such issues exasperating and a waste of time. I, on the contrary, find them of the utmost importance.

So, what is self-defense? The meaning seems intuitive enough: To defend oneself. The terms 'defend' and 'defense', in turn, indicate some kind of action by some individual as a result or effect of some previous action by a different individual. This analysis leads to the two crucial questions in this (largely semantic) issue. First, what kinds of previous actions merit self-defense? Second, should self-defense be necessarily deadly? Let me address each question in turn.

Regarding the first question, one can tentatively appeal to a taxonomy according to which attacks that merit self-defense are of two kinds, direct and indirect. A direct attack is one where one individual may potentially cause or inflict some physical damage to another through the use of some kind of weapon (whether made of metal, wood, or flesh) and without the intervention or mediation of any other individual. Note that this definition excludes being robbed as an attack, whether direct or indirect (see below). 'Self-defense' thus can be defined as an attack that seeks to counter or oppose any potential physical damage that might result from the attack being countered, and even to cause physical damage to the attacker. Of course, this definition excludes ‘verbal’ attacks. The words of a stranger do me no harm (whether physical or emotional), so they deserve neither my time nor my energy (much less killing anyone for them; enough blood has been shed in the name of words...).

There seems to be substantial agreement that a direct attack towards oneself merits self-defense. The details, again, are important. Clearly, if one is not engaging in any fight and suddenly is attacked by someone else, that counts as an instance of a direct attack where self-defense (whether or not deadly; see below) is amply warranted. These cases are clear-cut, and not unheard of in Dysotopia (I have just been informed that there is one taking place now, even as I write these lines, involving Shane Sane and a 'mad wizard' crying he was a god; I shall shortly report the first formal accusation in that regard).

The tough issue is the indirect attacks. Here, we need a taxonomy of indirect attacks that warrant self-defense. I believe Insedur's proposal provides a good starting point in this respect, but I'd like to elaborate on it, if I may. To begin with, I do not see being robbed as constituting an attack in the sense defined above, not even an indirect one. Hence, it does not merit self-defense in the above sense, much less killing a fellow Dysotopian. To me, the best 'defense' (in a different sense) against being robbed is to be careful and avoid any contact with suspicious people. I always try to look out for potential rogues. Just yesterday, however, I made I big mistake in that regard. I let my guard down. Someone used the trick of casting darkness, in view of the true seeing I had on me at that moment, and robbed me blind of my true seeing tome and my Sylvandale soulstone. In that case, I consider I was as much at fault as the rogue himself (yes, I know for a fact it was a 'he'). I should have run as soon as darkness was cast and as fast and far as I could. In any case, I would take being robbed out of the list of actions that merit life-threatening self-defense in the above sense. Consequently, any thief who gets killed just for robbing anyone, should have the right to press a murder charge against his or her attacker, even if the robbery actually took place. Of course, we should also legislate in matters regarding robbery and thievery, so that the victims of such acts can also make formal accusations against the rogues in question. At the same time, I believe murder is far more condemnable than robbery, so in a case where a rogue press charges against a victim that killed him or her shall be fined for the act more lightly than the murderer. Additionally, the thief should return the robbed item(s) or, in their defect, their present gold value in the market. Evidently, here we face, once again, the problem of evidence. How can one determine that someone who yells ‘thief’ is telling the truth? Even more daunting, how can one determine the truth of any claim that a specific item has been robbed? And how can one determine the truth of an accusation for robbery against a specific individual? These are difficult questions I know not how to answer at this moment...

One could argue that as a consequence of having been robbed, one’s life could be threatened. Perhaps the rouge robbed us that precious ring or book that gave us an edge in battle. The problem with this point, however, is that it opens too many avenues of analysis, far more than can be addressed in a reasonable time. Suppose, for instance, a rogue robbed me a ring that gave me some kind of protection, the lack of which would likely result in my death in combat. Is the rogue guilty of my death? Did the rogue indirectly murder me? I think not, for I’d be equally (of not more) responsible for my own death. If I know that the stolen item(s) gave me an edge the absence of which could result in my death, I should delay that particular kind of combat until I somehow am able to recover or replace it. If I engage and die having that knowledge, then, indeed, the rogue played a rather small part in my demise.

More problematic is aiding in any way (healing, making invisible, blessing, etc.) an individual one is fighting against. Here, I believe there's much more room for discussion as well. My thoughts on this regard I have already expressed in my thread ‘Justice, law, ethics, and other frustrations...’, but let me summarize (and perhaps even slightly modify) them here. Aside from the fact (except for the obvious cases) that it could be extremely difficult to determine, in the heat of battle, that someone has aided an individual (whether a fellow Dysotopian or a native monster) one is fighting against, to me one aiding attempt does not necessarily qualify as an (indirect) attack, for it might have been an honest mistake. Nonetheless, one attempt warrants a warning. If, even after a warning, a second aiding attempt takes place (actually occurs; not, like in the Gwent/Dona case, where Athe thought Jenna was going to heal the Golem again), only then it qualifies as an indirect attack. In that case, the affected part can either give a second warning, or proceed to attack the aid.

My second question (Must self-defense be necessarily deadly?) I tend to answer negatively. I believe a crucial aspect of reducing violence among fellow Dysotopians is to avoid as much as possible potentially deadly confrontation, even at the risk of being called a coward (again, names do no harm to me, and I care not what any hostile Dysotopian says or thinks about myself). And if confrontation is inevitable, one should strive not to kill one’s opponent (i.e., do everything possible to temporarily disable one’s opponent, by paralyzing, stunning, blinding, dazing, etc. him/her), and then retire peacefully from the situation. And killing for revenge, of course (as we learned from the Gwent/Dona case), is out of the question.

That’s it for now... I shall keep pondering...

Yours,

Karise

‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.’
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Ectovult
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting points...
We do have to discuss what to do about thieves.
That will probably be a BIG problem...

As for self defense, I think we all have pretty much reached agreement. But, as we all know, each case is different from the other, so we must analize them carefully, and only then take our conclusions.
This discussion will at least help us to have some basis.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My condition as a fighter makes me occasionally forget the existence of magic (which has caused so many deaths, perhaps even more than slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning weapons combined). So, naturally, my definition of a direct attack should be extended to cover damaging spells, as follows:

A direct attack is one where one individual causes or inflicts some physical damage to another through the use of some kind of weaponry (whether made of metal, wood, or flesh) and/or spells, without the intervention or mediation of any other individual.

Note the subtle but critical change from 'may potentially cause or inflict' to the actual form 'causes or inflicts'. I still have to think more about this, but perhaps 'attack' should be defined in terms of the occurrence of actual damage, as opposed to potential damage, for potentialities leave too much room for speculation. An additional advantage of that definition is that it provides a more precise criterion for assessing how life-threatening a direct attack really is. To mention once again an example I provided somewhere else, if I am the target of an unprovoked attack, I always strive to assess how much real damage I can suffer from it. If I am immune to death magic, for instance, and a wizard casts on me, say, gaze of destruction, my life is not threatened in any way, so a defense is not warranted. In that kind of situation, I would simply walk (or perhaps run) away peacefully, thus avoiding confrontation. I tend to think that deadly defense is warranted only if substantial, life-threatening damage actually occurs as a result of the attack.

Karise

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