Any intelligent discussion of terrorism must demarcate its subject matter, for the term ‘terrorism’ is differently understood and where there is no accord on its meaning there is little chance for agreement on its application or normative status. The best course is to sketch a morally neutral definition that classifies as ‘terrorist’ as many widely-agreed upon cases as possible. Definitions that explicitly render terrorism illegitimate make classification contentious, and it is more informative to base moral assessment on an examination of the case rather than through apriori stipulation. Most writers on the topic agree that terrorism is (i) a deliberate use or threat of violence, (ii) politically-motivated, and (iii) directed against non-military personnel, that is, against civilians or noncombatants. Taking these as the only essential features of terrorism, the simplest and more accurate reportive definition is this: Terrorism is deliberate, politically-motivated violence, or the threat of such, directed against civilians.1 By contrast, Ted Honderich describes terrorism as small-scale violence, driven by a political aim, that violates national or international law and is prima facie morally wrong. He thereby counts a good deal of resistance activity and guerilla warfare as terrorist, even when directed against military personnel, while excluding the large-scale military actions of governments. Of course, he may define the word as he chooses, but given its common..
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