doctrine of necessity
Noun

doctrine of necessity

  1. (philosophy, metaphysics, theology) Necessarianism, especially as espoused by Joseph Priestley.
  2. (legal) A principle whereby a normally criminal act is justified by the necessity of preserving something of greater utilitarian value than that lost or sacrificed; not to be confused with self-defence.
    • 1995, Bryan A. Garner, necessity, entry in A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, page 583 ↗,
      The doctrine of necessity might lead a court to approve a doctor′s decision to perform an illegal, third-trimester abortion in order to save the mother′s life.
  3. (politics, legal) The principle that, in a situation of emergency or exigent circumstance, a state may legitimately act in ways that would normally be illegal.
  4. (politics, legal) The principle that the laws, of governance in action, should be deemed valid insofar as they do not contradict the constitution. Validated on the basis that maintenance of government is of greater utilitarian value than maintenance of the law.
  5. (politics, international law) The principle that a state in immediate peril to its existence, from a situation not of its own doing, may in extremis be justified in violating a right of another state.
    • 1991, Eduardo Jiménez de Aréchaga, Attila Tanzi, Chapter 17: International State Responsibility, Mohammed Bedjaoui (editor), International Law: Achievements and Prospects, UNESCO, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, page 354 ↗,
      The enumeration of situations where the doctrine of necessity has been invoked forms either a catalogue of serious breaches of international law or of cases susceptible of being explained without an appeal to the doctrine of necessity.
Synonyms
  • (necessarianism) doctrine of philosophical necessity
  • (principle of preservation of greater utilitarian value) duress of circumstances



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