The article examines whether force against a hijacked airplane is permissible if uninvolved passengers are killed. It takes a recent ruling by the German Federal Constitutional Court as its starting point, but addresses the relevant issues on a more general level with arguments drawn from moral philosophy, criminal law theory and constitutional theory, and political philosophy. The author concludes that a private individual who applies deadly force against the plane would commit a criminal wrong but should be excused. If, however, state officials act to protect the lives of other citizens, protective rights stand against defensive rights. Because such conflicts cannot be resolved within a discourse about rights, it is legitimate to save the greater number of persons.
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