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In a variety of circumstances, it is justified to harm persons, or deprive them of liberty, in order to prevent them from doing something objectionable. We see this in interactions between individuals-think of self-defense or defense of others-and we see it in large-scale interactions among groups-think of preemptive measures taken by countries against conspiring terrorists, plotting dictators, or ambitious nations. We can argue, of course, about the details. Under exactly what conditions is it justified to inflict harm or deprive someone of liberty for reasons of prevention? But in having such arguments we agree on the fundamental idea: there are conditions under which prevention is justified, even if it is unclear precisely what those conditions are.

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