Unraveling Emergency Justifications and Excuses for Terrorism

Journal of Social Philosophy 42 (2):219-238 (2011)
This paper examines recent arguments by Michael Walzer and Uwe Steinhoff for justifying or excusing indiscriminate terrorism by means of invoking ‘emergency’ circumstances. While both authors claim that the principle of non-combatant immunity can be justifiably overridden under extreme circumstances, it is argued here that neither provides a convincing argument as to when and why the survival of some innocents ought to counterbalance the harms or rights violations of indiscriminate terrorism. A defensible emergency justification for indiscriminate terrorism is proposed and shown to open the door to a broader, non-emergency rationale for conceivably excusing or justifying indiscriminate terrorism.
Keywords Terrorism  Just War Theory  Emergency Ethics  Supreme Emergency
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