San Diego Law Review

Document Type



Assume Culpable Aggressor threatens Innocent Victim with a knife. Victim is stronger than Culpable Aggressor and is able to defend herself by punching Culpable Aggressor in the face, causing him to stumble back and drop the knife. Not only was this action necessary, but also Victim believed it to be so to save her life.

I take it that this is an uncontroversial case of self-defense. My question is whether this is also a case of punishment. Uwe Steinhoff suggests that it might be. Indeed, he states that “nothing hinders an act from being both punitive and defensive. In fact, this double structure is probably the normal one for cases of self-defense.”