In what situations would violence be appropriate?
The way I see it, the only excuse is as a response to violence (self-defense).
Am I missing anything?
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This is a very, very good question, and a discussion that is a critical cornerstone in formulating and ethic which governs social interactions among men. The conclusions that we reach regarding social ethic will apply from the smallest interaction between to neighbors to the largest policy decisions implemented by governments.
We all can agree that "violence" is generally undesirable and unpleasant. I believe it is critical to distinguish between the INITIATION of violence, and the use of defensive or retaliatory force. It is, in my view, always unjustified to INITIATE violence / force against another person, specifically, against another person's life, liberty, or property. It is, however, appropriate to engage in a proportional use of defensive or retaliatory force.
I highly recommend a viewing of the following short flash animation created by economics professor Ken Schooland:
Does violence always constitute physical force? Is a threat (of force) also a violence? Is it violence when you talk harshly (to a big brute; to a defenseless old lady; to a peer; a child, an animal)?
Is violence "appropriate": in a life-threatening situation? when someone else's future plans may cause you hardship? when access to a resource you need is denied?
This all leads to the hard questions of values and the nature of judgment and freedom and ultimately the nature of goodness - this is what your seemingly naive question is actually all about; it touches on the heart of philosophy.
And there is no simple answer.
Violence is not applied philosophy, although that is a funny thought.
Many people have investigated this question before, and the consensus of the wise seems to be preserved idiomatically in "Violence is never the answer." An answer is a form of a response, so if you asked me "when is violence the appropriate response?" I would say "never."
Why? Well, from the perspective of "self" it is painful to get hurt or to be the victim of violence; however, from an all-encompassing perspective, you are spreading more violence. If everyone held the view that violence was an OK response to violence then how would we ever achieve peace? The only true way would be for even those that are victims of violence to not act aggressively towards their attackers. That is, even if someone is hurting you, you should not hurt them back. You may think this outrageous from the point of view of "self" which is natural, but it is easy to see that with a greater goal in mind this solution is untenable, even in the perhaps 'limited' case of self-defense.
Why? If you condone violence in one aspect, you effectively condone it in all aspects. By saying that you will only harm those that harm you, you are saying that you will harm everyone, because we are all guilty of helping and harming each other, always. Someone drives a car? They create pollution that reduces your oxygen supply. Should you destroy them, in self-defense? Someone eats an apple, reducing the possible number of apples in the world for you to eat! Depending on how you take it, this could be an act of aggression. Really, any exception you add to the general Rule of Peace will facilitate the absence of peace, so I would say that violence is never acceptable, even in self-defense, and I am aware that most will disagree with me perhaps, but this is my view.
If anything, I think you would be interested to read about Karma, as it is quite a fantastic way of bringing together these ideas.
I'd look at it in terms of game theory....
so, violence tends to be a "move" that's made to increase your chance of "winning".
so the biggest factor is what happens with the other game participants when you act violent. If you can gain significant advantage, then violence is worth it.
When the other people in the game react negatively to violence by "self defense". Then the utility of the violence is greatly reduced. If all players can't see any significant advantage, then violence is only justified as a mechanism to stop other violence being a "winning" strategy (self defense).
now what "winning" is can vary from "player" to "player". Which represents different sets of values.
So violence could be seen as appropriate as a means to gain power and control. It's been proven to be very effective. (whether you think that is 'right' or not depends on values). But has great costs.
so, if, for instance, you are in a society controlled by a dictator, who suppresses your freedoms ( but is not actively violent against you ). You may decide that 'fighting' to gain power and control is your best option to gain the significant advantage of "freedom". Even knowing that the "dictator" will use self defense to neutralize violence as a winning strategy.
The answer that violence is never the answer does have a rich literature behind it; pacifism is not foolish and it does have the virtues of both clarity and consistency. It is also a minority view.
More common is the view that the proportional use of violence is justified in defence of self and of others. Consider two cases:
1) I am attempting to stab you in a circumstances where you cannot reasonably expect to be able to run away from the threat.
2) A police officer arrives at the scene of one of the lamentably common "school shootings" to see the perpetrator firing an automatic machine gun at a crowd of students. The perpetrator is over 100m from the police officer.
On most views, in (1), you'd be justified in using a level of force against me that a reasonable person would think necessary to neutralize the threat I pose to you as it is reasonable for you to fear that I am attempting to cause you serious harm or death. If and when you have managed to effect a situation where a reasonable person would no longer perceive me to pose a threat (say you broke my arms or rendered me unconscious), no further use of force would be justifiable.
On most views, in (2), the police officer would be justified in shooting the perpetrator. By hypothesis, the perpetrator is in the middle of killing other people and is too far away for any other means of stopping that killing to be available to the police officer. Even here, if the police officer has a choice between shooting to kill and shooting to incapacitate the perpetrator, most views would have it that the police officer ought to aim to incapacitate. Of course, in the nature of the circumstance, it might well be that a shot aimed to incapacitate does instead kill. Likewise, if a shot aimed to incapacitate does wound the perpetrator but does not succeed in stopping their efforts to fire into the crowd, most views would have it that the police officer then may shoot to kill, the lesser use of force having manifestly failed to preserve the lives of those the perpetrator is attempting to kill.
Common features of both cases are that 1) there is a risk of serious harm to someone, 2) no non-violent method can be reasonably expected to prevent that harm, and 3) the harm threatened is threatened due to the actions of a bad actor. ((3) is intended to distinguish cases like (1) and (2) from ones where Pat's actions pose a serious risk of harm to Sam, but Pat could not have reasonably been expected to foresee that Pat's actions did pose a serious risk of harm.)
This really depends on your definition of appropriate.
Violence is appropriate if you can justify the actions based on the context. Note that context includes what system of justice you have in place.
I believe violence should be used as last resort with the intent of minimizing collateral damage.
The defender should not exceed the amount of violence used by the opponent provided that life is not threatened.
Someone who helps out someone in need should be rewarded with appropriate privileges such as recognition, compensation if severely wounded from the fight, etc.
The system should ease the process of denonciation and take care of the protection which might be needed by the individual.
Failure to engage a fight by negociation is better than winning a fight because no physical damage was done to anyone. It can even solve the problem! Do fights solve any problems? If yes, does it do so with no harm done?
The human society is an ecosystem and a healthy ecosystem must protect its people so that the society may prosper free of external threats. Failure to do so will result in a crippled society, either free or in prisons, non productive and unhappy. You don't want that do you? ;-S
Violence is just fine when it is exercised by a highy authority to a lower authoruty. For example: if a man kill a dog, then question of violence doesn't come in picture. But when a dog kill a man, people feel that its too much to bear.
Or if US forces bombed the Afganisthan, then you won't find any violence. Its too violent too imagine the reverse.
If you don't mind, I'll actually take what I have learned from God's apparent violent acts and apply that knowledge here.
An eye for an eye example. This statement is very true to Gods nature, meaning that the same kind of evil will be laid upon you that you lay upon others. This form of justice is one that I can see being very effective.
Example of effectiveness: If a violent person has no understanding of what their actions will cause upon themselves, then they will most likely give that cause no thought. However, if a person understands that whatever they do to somebody else will be done to them, then they would definitely rise thought to their actions each time they considered doing violence. This same understanding is taught to us from scripture.
To answer you question, violent situations are appropriate when serving justice against a violent person.
Consider Americans retaliation against Iraq after 9/11, or a Texas courts ruling after a multiple homicide.
continuing my rant: If a person or persons were never willing to rise to the level of violence necessary to defeat an opponent, then they themselves would surely be killed off.