An Evaluation of the “No Purpose” and some other Theories (such as Oil) For Explaining Al-Qaeda's Motives

Social Philosophy Today 20:109-128 (2004)
Various causal factors have been offered to explain the motives behind the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacs on 9/11 and at various other times and places throughout the world. Quite often the reasons or purposes are said to include political, economic, religious and ethnic factors. Often historical factors, such as colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as nationalism, poverty, class divisions and modernization, are included. But some scholars and political figures, quite inconsistently at times, assert that there is no discernable purpose or purposes in these attacks. It is argued, for example, that the sheer magnitude of the death and carnage in the 9/11 attacks suggests no rational purpose in the minds of the perpetrators. The implication is that the Al-Qaeda attacks are allegedly purely irrational. In contrast, I argue that there are flaws and inconsistencies with this No Purpose Theory, and that oil, moreover, shouldn’t be omitted (as it often is) from any plausible broad explanation of the complex mix of causal factors. Needless to say, to suggest that Al-Qaeda had reasons is not to suggest that the reasons were necessarily good or morally justifiable. Then again, among these reasons it is necessary to sort out the goals from the violent tactics so as to discover why, in particular, many Arabs and Muslims sympathize with some of the goals.This whole issue is important because, among other things, if the No Purpose Theory is assumed to be accurate, it would, at least for the problem at hand, eliminate from serious consideration in one fell swoop literally all of the other possible factors (political, religious, economic, etc.). This would be so in spite of the initial reasonableness of the notion that many of these factors have at least some weight or other. But if, contrary to what the No Purpose Theory says, items such as oil are shown to be actually causally important, and are consequently on the table for more extended and open discussion, then there at least would be a better opportunity for more successfully tackling these problems and ameliorating the risk of future terrorist attacks. At least so I will argue
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI socphiltoday20042014
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,914
External links
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Palmer Talbutt Jr (1983). Motives, Reasons, and Culturation. Philosophy Research Archives 9:245-264.
Jeffrey Haynes (2005). Al Qaeda: Ideology and Action. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 8 (2):177-191.
Mohamed Elsamahi (2005). Coherence Between Theories. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):331-352.
Ronald F. Duska (1997). The Why's of Business Revisited. Journal of Business Ethics 16 (12-13):1401-1409.
Christopher Hitchcock & Joshua Knobe (2009). Cause and Norm. Journal of Philosophy 106 (11):587-612.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

5 ( #359,709 of 1,725,580 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #211,098 of 1,725,580 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.