Terrorism and war

The Journal of Ethics 8 (1):59-75 (2004)

Abstract

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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Virginia Held
CUNY Graduate Center

References found in this work

Terrorism and Innocence.C. A. J. Coady - 2004 - The Journal of Ethics 8 (1):37-58.

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Citations of this work

Is Terrorism Morally Distinctive?Samuel Scheffler - 2006 - Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (1):1-17.
Terrorism and the Uses of Terror.Jeremy Waldron - 2004 - The Journal of Ethics 8 (1):5-35.
Killing Civilians.Gerhard Overland - 2005 - European Journal of Philosophy 13 (3):345-363.
Jus Ad Bellum After 9/11: A State of the Art Report.Mark Rigstad - 2007 - International Political Theory Beacon.

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