David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Ethics 8 (1):59-75 (2004)
There are different kinds of terrorism as there are of war. It is unpersuasive to make the deliberate targeting of civilians a defining feature of terrorism, and states as well as non-state groups can engage in terrorism. In a democracy, voters responsible for a government’s unjustifiable policies are not necessarily innocent, while conscripts are legitimate targets. Rather than being uniquely atrocious, terrorism most resembles small war. It is not always or necessarily more morally unjustifiable than war. All war should be avoided, but some war is more unjustifiable than other war. Comparable judgments should be made about terrorism. It is appropriate to compare civilians killed by those seeking political change and those using violence to prevent such change. Sometimes the debate should focus on the justifiability or lack of it of the aims sought. While violence should always be used as little as possible, those in power are responsible for making other means than violence effective in achieving justifiable political change. When considering the likely causes of violence, one that has received inadequate attention is humiliation. Humiliation is not the same as shame. Causing humiliation can and should be avoided.
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Citations of this work BETA
Alison M. Jaggar (2005). What is Terrorism, Why is It Wrong, and Could It Ever Be Morally Permissible? Journal of Social Philosophy 36 (2):202–217.
Samuel Scheffler (2006). Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive? Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (1):1-17.
Troy Jollimore (2007). Terrorism, War, and the Killing of the Innocent. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (4):353 - 372.
Gerhard Overland (2005). Killing Civilians. European Journal of Philosophy 13 (3):345-363.
Matthew Noah Smith (2008). Terrorism, Shared Rules and Trust. Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (2):201–219.
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