David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Ethics 8 (1):97-138 (2004)
A great deal of violence in civil wars is informed by the logic of terrorism: violence tends to be used by political actors against civilians in order to shape their political behavior. I focus on indiscriminate violence in the context of civil war: this is a type of violence that selects its victims on the basis of their membership in some group and irrespective of their individual actions. Extensive empirical evidence suggests that indiscriminate violence in civil war is informed by the logic of terrorism. I argue that under certain conditions, that tend to be quite common, such violence is counter productive. I specify these conditions and address the following paradox: why do we sometimes observe instances of indiscriminate violence evenunder conditions that make this strategy counterproductive? I review four possible reasons: truncated data, ignorance, cost, and institutional constraints. I argue that indiscriminate violence emerges because it is much cheaper than its main alternative – selective violence. It is more likely under a steep imbalance of power between the competing actors, and where and when resources and information are low; however, most political actors eventually switch to selective violence. Thus, given a balance of power between competing actors, indiscriminate violence is more likely at early rather than late stages of the conflict. Overall, the paper suggests that even extreme forms of violence are used strategically.
|Keywords||civil war indiscriminate victimization non-combatants terrorism violence|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Emily Kalah Gade (2010). Defining the Non-Combatant: How Do We Determine Who is Worthy of Protection in Violent Conflict? Journal of Military Ethics 9 (3):219-242.
Similar books and articles
Trudy Govier (2005). Physical Violence in Political Conflicts : Grounds for a Strong Presumption Against Violence. In Timothy Shanahan (ed.), Philosophy 9/11: Thinking About the War on Terrorism. Open Court.
Matthew R. Silliman (2004). Weighing Evils. Social Philosophy Today 20:129-136.
Scott C. Lowe (2006). Defining Terrorism. The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 2:253-256.
Bruce Buchan (2001). Liberalism and Fear of Violence. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 4 (3):27-48.
Virginia Held (1997). The Media and Political Violence. Journal of Ethics 1 (2):187-202.
Virginia Held (2004). Terrorism and War. Journal of Ethics 8 (1):59-75.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads19 ( #87,403 of 1,098,978 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #57,966 of 1,098,978 )
How can I increase my downloads?