self-defense

The use of force by a private individual in protecting his natural rights from unjust aggression. These natural rights are the right of life, of property, of good name. When recourse, at the moment of unjust aggression, cannot be had to civil authority, then force from a motive, not of hatred or vengence, but of self-defense, may be used against the aggressor. The force employed must never be more harmful than is necessary for one's protection.

New Catholic Dictionary

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