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The right to use force against an unjust aggressor. The moral premises on which justifiable self-defense is based are the fact that the possession of life includes the right to use the means necessary to protect one's life, provided such means do not violate the rights of others. In the case of unjust aggression, the use of force aqnd even a deathblow may be the only means of saving one's life. THe rights of others are not therby violated, for the assailant's right to live is suspended during the unjust attack. Moreover, the attacker can easily protect his or her life by merely ceasing from the attack.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.