Session Type: Section Programs
Session Capacity: N/A
Hotel: Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco Union Square
Floor: Second Floor Level
“Choice of Evils,” or the defense of necessity, is traditionally viewed as a paradigmatic justification. It is available to an actor who violated a criminal prohibition in order to avoid a greater harm or evil. A driver may exceed the speed limit to rush an injured person to a hospital. A mountaineer may break into a vacant cabin to save his life from an oncoming snow storm. In view of many theorists, this doctrine is quite straightforward. But is it?
Not only does it exceed the boundaries of criminal law: among other things, it applies to medical decisions, political choices, and constitutional analysis. How should it work in these areas? For example, may a town condemn private homes in order to further the economic development of the whole neighborhood? May interrogators water-board suspected terrorists in order to thwart a potential terrorist attack?
Even more generally, where does the authority to choose between evils come from? And can evils truly be compared? Is killing one innocent person in order to save many always a “lesser evil”? Is it a “lesser evil” at least sometimes? These and many other fascinating questions will be discussed at the section’s annual program.
Business Meeting at Program Conclusion.