This chapter argues that it is impossible to generalize about the nature and rationale of legal justifications because justifications divide themselves into two categories each of which is further subdivided. The primary division is between justifications claimed by public officials and those claimed by private agents. Even within these categories generalization is impossible, because private justifications (like public ones) separate themselves into two groupings under two distinct paradigms of justice, each ordered to a particular conception of freedom. The justifications of force against a wrongdoer belong to the formal agency paradigm, whereas the justifications of force against an innocent reflect the interdependence of the formal agency and real autonomy frameworks. Each of these groups has a distinctive rationale and therefore distinctive limiting conditions. As a consequence there is no such thing as a paradigm case of justification. Answers to the questions as to whether justifications negate wrongs in the particular case or justify abiding wrongs, whether the unknowingly justified actor is justified, whether a reasonable belief in justification is sufficient or whether a true belief is necessary vary for the different groups.
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