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Unformatted text preview: cized as "ends justifying the means" in that the doctrine allows that, within certain limits, it is justifiable, especially under exigent circumstances, to break the letter of the law if doing so will produce a net benefit to society. Another commentator observed: "These [justified] acts are ones, as regards which, upon balancing all considerations of public policy, it seems desirable that they should be encouraged and commended even though in each case some individual may be injured or the result may be otherwise not wholly to be desired." It has been further opined that the necessity doctrine "represents a concession to human weakness in cases of extreme pressure, where the accused breaks the law rather than submitting to the probability of greater harm if he does not break the law." The idea, in its simplest form, is that it is unjust to penalize someone for violating the law when the action produces a greater good or averts a greater evil. Had the unlawful action not taken place, society would have endured a greater evil than that which resulted from violating the law. Therefore, under the necessity doctrine, those who violate the law in certain circumstances are justified in doing so. With the necessity defense there will always be a prima facie violation of the law. It might involve the violation of a minor traffic law, with no harm caused to life or limb, but the technical violation of the law will nonetheless count as a harm to society. In other instances the violation of law may involve tortious conduct that causes damages to economic or property interests. Or, the violation of law may involve serious criminal conduct that results in the death or maiming of innocent people. SLHS Value File IN DESPERATE SITUATIONS, CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL TO SAVE MORE LIVES. G.E.M. Anscombe, Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge University, Absolutism and Its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Joram Graf Haber, 1993, p. 46-7 In recent discussions, variations upon the following imaginary case have won a good deal of at...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13