San Diego Law Review

Document Type



I was not certain I was going to write something for this symposium. After all, I had written a lot on the topic of self-defense, so what was there left to say that I had not said before? I have concluded, however, after reading a new generation of literature on self-defense, that most who write on the topic neglect its perhaps most important aspect, namely, that it is a preemptive action. As a preemptive action, self-defense perforce takes place before the attack to which it is a response occurs. This preemptive aspect of self-defense brings with it a nest of theoretical problems to which those who write about self-defense too infrequently advert.