A Critique of Exceptions

There are good reasons to beware of arguments that allow for exceptions to principles about the proper limit of violence. Justifications of such exceptions occur in recent discussions of torture and terrorism. One of the reasons to be skeptical of these arguments is that when political agents make exceptions to moral principles, these exceptions can become precedents that serve to normalize immoral behavior. This aspect of political reality is ignored in contemporary attempts to justify torture and terrorism. The present paper explains why torture and terrorism are wrong despite recent attempts to justify them. It draws distinctions between torture and terrorism, while examining these practices in the context of the war on terrorism
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