Without doubt, terrorism is one of the most vehemently debated subjects in current political affairs as well as in academic discourse. Yet, although it constitutes an issue of general socio-political interest, neither in everyday language nor in professional (political, legal, or academic) contexts does there exist a generally accepted definition of terrorism. The question of how it should be defined has been answered countless times, with as much variety as quantity in the answers. In academic discourse, it is (...) difficult to find two scholars who use the term ‘terrorism’ in the same way. -/- While it is impossible to formulate a definition which satisfies everyone, discussing the definition question is indispensable. The necessity to review existing definitions with a view to improving them is especially obvious in legal and political contexts. How terrorism is defined in these contexts has serious consequences, and if we lack clear definitions we run into problems. How can we have laws or take political measures against something we have not clearly defined? Without doubt, there exists a practical necessity for a definition in these fields. It is important to have clear standards for defining terrorism. -/- In my view, the definition should meet three basic criteria: first, it should cover those cases that we concurrently consider to be instances of terrorism (such as the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in September 2001 or those on commuting trains in Madrid Atocha in March 2004). That is, ideally, our definition of terrorism remains close to uncontroversial usages of the term. Second, the definition should abstain from morally judging the act in question. Later I will say more about so called “moral” definitions of terrorism. For now, it suffices to say that defining an action and evaluating it are distinct tasks and should remain so. Third, the definition must identify characteristics that are specific to terrorism alone, characteristics which clearly distinguish it from other phenomena. (shrink)
In combating international terrorism, it is important to observe some basic principles, such as that international law must be complied with, care should be taken that one does not proceed in such a way that future terrorists are recruited, and one does not oneself become a terrorist. Unfortunately, the war on terrorism.
On September 11, 2001, Americans were painfully reminded of a truth that for years had been easy to overlook, namely, that terrorism can affect every person in the world – regardless of location, nationality, political conviction, or occupation – and that, in principle, nobody is beyond terrorism’s reach. However, our renewed awareness of the ubiquity of the terrorist threat has been accompanied by wide disagreement and confusion about the moral status of terrorism and how terrorism ought (...) to be confronted. Much of the disagreement and confusion, I contend, is rooted in an inadequate understanding of just what it is that constitutes terrorism. In this paper, I offer the beginnings of a response to the challenge of terrorism by providing an account of what terrorism is and of some of the philosophical issues involved. My account is divided into two sections. In the first section I examine some of the difficulties involved in defining terrorism, and show that some of the most common “ordinary” understandings of terrorism are inadequate. In the second section I offer a working definition of terrorism that overcomes many of the difficulties outlined in the first section. I argue that terrorism consists in the use of “systematically unsystematic” violence (whether directed at combatants or noncombatants), and that the random or indiscriminate character of terroristic violence points us in the direction of seeing what is distinctively wrong with it. The fundamental problem is that terrorism is not committed to any rules of armed conflict or any principles that would facilitate the eventual containment or termination of the conflict. (shrink)
Shortly after the bus and subway bombings in London on July 7, 2005, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called upon world leaders to reach consensus on a definition of terrorism, one that would facilitate 'moral clarity' and underwrite the United Nations convention against terrorism. The Secretary General's plea to world leaders help to highlight the practical significance and urgency of having a workable definition of terrorism. For the task of defining terrorism is not only theoretically (...) or academically important; it is important for far-reaching practical, moral, and political purposes as well. For without at least some semblance of a workable definition of terrorism, it is impossible to identify and collect data on acts of terrorism throughout the world; to understand and address the root causes of terrorism; and to reach international agreement and undertake collective action in addressing terrorism. And yet in spite of practical and moral urgency of the task at hand, consensus on an acceptable definition of terrorism has been notoriously elusive. (shrink)
In its reaction on the terroristic attacks of September 9th, 2001, the US-government threatened Afghanistan's Taleban with war in order to force them to extradite terrorist leader Bin Laden; the Taleban said that they would not surrender to this kind of blackmail – and so, they were removed from Kabul by means of military force. The rivalling versions of this story depend crucially on notions such as "terrorism" and "blackmail". Obviously you'll gain public support for your preferrend version of (...) the story if you are able to determine how those notions are to be used. So we had better reflect about their very meaning and about the moral implications of their proper usage. To gain a deeper understanding of our notions of "blackmail" and "terrorism" I shall propose an extreme thought experiment: Cassandra's plan. Cassandra foresees that sooner or later one of the nuclear powers might take the liberty to use atomic bombs. From fright she founds an NGO for blackmailing the statesmen who are in charge of nuclear weapons; she announces in public that all ministers and leaders of any government shall be hunted down, and executed, whose soldiers drop but one atomic bomb. (Cassandra's NGO keeps killer teams in constant training so as to increase the effect of the threat; this is being financiated from private donations). In my paper I shall raise two questions (without claiming to provide definite answers). First, would we have to say that Cassandra's NGO was a terrorist organisation? Second, would it be morally wrong if Cassandra blackmailed statesmen in the way indicated? (shrink)
Many paradigmatic forms of animal rights and environmental activism have been classed as terrorism both in popular discourse and in law. This paper argues that the labelling of many violent forms of direct action carried out in the name of animal rights or environmentalism as ‘terrorism’ is incorrect. Furthermore, the claim is also made that even those acts which are correctly termed as terrorism are not necessarily wrongful acts. The result of this analysis is to call into (...) question the terms of public debate and the legitimacy of anti-terrorism laws targeting and punishing radical activism. (shrink)
This paper criticizes three assumptions regarding terrorism and the agents who carry it out: 1) terrorists are always indiscriminate in their targeting, 2) terrorism is never effective in combating oppression, and 3) terrorists never participate in fair negotiations as they merely wish to switch places with their oppressors. By criticizing these three prejudices against terrorism, the paper does not attempt to justify or excuse terrorism generally nor in the specific case of Sri Lanka which is examined. (...) Instead, it creates the necessary room for such justifications or excuses to be critically appraised by dismantling the popular myths surrounding terrorism. (shrink)
This article introduces evolutionary psychology to a general readership, with the purpose of applying evolutionary psychology to suicide terrorism. Some of the key concepts related to evolutionary psychology are discussed, as well as several misconceptions associated with this approach to psychology. We argue that one of the primary, but insufficient, motivating factors for suicide terrorism is strong religious belief. Evolutionary psychological theories related to religious belief, and supporting empirical work, are described, laying a foundation for examining suicide (...) class='Hi'>terrorism. Several promising directions for future research on suicide terrorism from an evolutionary psychological perspective are highlighted, particularly within the theoretical framework of kin selection, and the implications of applying evolutionary psychology to suicide terrorism are discussed. (shrink)
In contemporary academic, political, and media discourse, terrorism is typically portrayed as an existential threat to lives and states, a threat driven by religious extremists who seek the destruction of Western civilization and who are immune to reason and negotiation. In many countries, including the US, the UK, and Australia, this existential threat narrative of terrorism has been used to justify sweeping counterterrorism legislation, as well as military operations and even the use of tactics such as torture and (...) indefinite detention. In this chapter I outline the components of the existential threat narrative, and explain how critical terrorism scholars have critiqued this narrative on two main grounds: that it is based on false empirical claims about the nature, scale, and motivations of modern non-state terrorism, and that counterterrorism policies and practices based on this narrative have had extremely destructive consequences for individuals, communities, and states—in some cases, causing far more destruction than terrorism itself. In the final section I offer some suggestions for the direction of future terrorism research in light of these critiques of the existential threat narrative. (shrink)
First, I argue that the contestability of the term “terrorism” is insufficient to justify the targeting of those who are innocent noncombatants beyond reasonable doubt; second, that states could be as vicious, if not even more so, than nonstate actors could be in perpetrating acts that might be described as terrorism, and, third, that an adequate definition of international terrorism must focus on the actual victims of such despicable acts.
In this book Uwe Steinhoff describes and explains the basic tenets of just war theory and gives a precise, succinct and highly critical account of its present status and of the most important and controversial current debates surrounding it. Rejecting certain in effect medieval assumptions of traditional just war theory and advancing a liberal outlook, Steinhoff argues that every single individual is a legitimate authority and has under certain circumstances the right to declare war on others or the state. He (...) also argues that the just cause cannot be established independently of the other criteria of jus ad bellum (the justification of entering a war), except for right intention, which he interprets more leniently than the tradition does. Turning to jus in bello (which governs the conduct of a war) he criticizes the Doctrine of Double Effect and concludes that insofar as wars kill innocents, and be it as "collateral damage", they cannot be just but at best justified as the lesser evil. Steinhoff gives particular attention to the question why soldiers, allegedly, are legitimate targets and civilians not. Discussing four approaches to the explanation of the difference he argues that the four principles underlying them all need to be taken into account and outlines how their weighing can proceed if applied to concrete cases. The resulting approach does not square the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate targets with the distinction between soldiers and civilians, which has extremely important consequences for the conduct of war. Finally, Steinhoff analyses the concept of terrorism and argues that some forms of "terrorism" are actually not terrorism at all and that even terrorism proper can under certain circumstances be justified. (shrink)
In this contribution to philosophical ethics, Claudia Card revisits the theory of evil developed in her earlier book The Atrocity Paradigm, and expands it to consider collectively perpetrated and collectively suffered atrocities. Redefining evil as a secular concept and focusing on the inexcusability - rather than the culpability - of atrocities, Card examines the tension between responding to evils and preserving humanitarian values. This stimulating and often provocative book contends that understanding the evils in terrorism, torture and genocide enables (...) us to recognise similar evils in everyday life: daily life under oppressive regimes and in racist environments; violence against women, including in the home; violence and executions in prisons; hate crimes; and violence against animals. Card analyses torture, terrorism and genocide in the light of recent atrocities, considering whether there can be moral justifications for terrorism and torture, and providing conceptual tools to distinguish genocide from non-genocidal mass slaughter. (shrink)
Political realism remains a powerful theoretical framework for thinking about international relations, including the war on terrorism. For Morgenthau and other realists, foreign policy is a matter of national interest defined in terms of power. Some writers view this tenet as weakening, if not severing, realism's link with morality. I take up the contrary view that morality is embedded in realist thought, as well as the possibility of realism being thinly and thickly moralised depending on the moral psychology of (...) the agents. I argue that a prima facie case can be made within a thinly moralised realism for a relatively weak ally like Bosnia to enter the war on terrorism. An inflationary model of morality, however, explains how the moral horror of genocide in an ally's past may lead to a thickened moralised realism such that allied policy-makers question their country's entry into the war. (shrink)
In my replies to some of my critics I argue that while the practice of terrorism is never justified, I concede that it is rarely but sometimes excused. As result, those who engage in excusable terrorism has a substantial burden of proof. They need to offer a compelling argument to show that the harm caused by their terrorist violence is actually excused by the extenuating circumstances and the goal that they are trying to achieve, so they will not (...) be morally or legally blameworthy for bringing about such harm. I am assuming that they will need to demonstrate that the alleged harm is excusable because it is necessary to accomplish a worthy goal and there is no other reasonable way to obtain such a worthy goal without deliberately harming those who can be reasonably conceived of as impeccably or objectively innocent. That is, those who are innocent beyond reasonable doubt. (shrink)
Just war scholars are increasingly focusing on the importance of jus post bellum – justice after war – for the legitimacy of military campaigns. Should something akin to jus post bellum standards apply to terrorist campaigns? Assuming that at least some terrorist actors pursue legitimate goals or just causes, do such actors have greater difficulty satisfying the prospect-of-success criterion of Just War Theory than military actors? Further, may the use of the terrorist method as such – state or non-state – (...) jeopardize lasting peace in a way that other violent, for instance military, strategies do not? I will argue that there appears to be little reason to believe that terrorist campaigns are in principle less able to secure or at least contribute to a lasting peace than military campaigns; quite to the contrary. Or, put differently, if terrorism is an unlikely method for securing peace, then war is an even more unlikely one. (shrink)
In the liberal democracies of North America and the European Union, terrorism is almost universally condemned. Moreover, few wish to question the“moral clarity” that denies any “moral equivalence” between terrorists and thosewho ﬁght them (Held 2004, 59–60). However, the seeming consensus on the moral reprehensibility of terrorism is undermined by substantial disagreementabout just what terrorism is. The primary purpose of this paper is to propose an account of terrorism capable of facilitating a more productive moral debate. (...) I conclude by opening—though certainly not closing—the question of when, if ever, terrorism might be morally permissible. (shrink)
“Terrorism”' is sometimes defined as a “form ofcoercion.” But there are important differences between ordinary coercion and terrorist intimidation. This paper explores some of those differences, particularly the relation between coercion, on the one hand, and terror and terrorization, on the other hand. The paper argues that while terrorism is not necessarily associated with terror in the literal sense, it does often seek to instill a mental state like terror in the populations that it targets. However, the point (...) of instilling this mental state is not necessarily coercive or intimidatory: one can try to instill terror as an act of punishment, or as an expressive or therapeutic act, or because one values the political consequences that might follow, or because one thinks terror is preferable, from an ethical point of view, to the inauthentic complacency that characterizes the targeted population at present. Though this paper asks questions about the definition of “terrorism,” these questions are not asked for their own sake. The quest for a canonical definition of “terrorism” is probably a waste of time. But asking questions which sound like questions of definition is sometimes a fruitful way of focusing our reflections on terrorism and organizing our response. (shrink)
America is at war with terrorism. Terrorists must be brought to justice.We hear these phrases together so often that we rarely pause to reflect on the dramatic differences between the demands of war and the demands of justice, differences so deep that the pursuit of one often comes at the expense of the other. In this book, one of the country's most important legal thinkers brings much-needed clarity to the still unfolding debates about how to pursue war and justice (...) in the age of terrorism. George Fletcher also draws on his rare ability to combine insights from history, philosophy, literature, and law to place these debates in a rich cultural context. He seeks to explain why Americans--for so many years cynical about war--have recently found war so appealing. He finds the answer in a revival of Romanticism, a growing desire in the post-Vietnam era to identify with grand causes and to put nations at the center of ideas about glory and guilt.Fletcher opens with unsettling questions about the nature of terrorism, war, and justice, showing how dangerously slippery the concepts can be. He argues that those sympathetic to war are heirs to the ideals of Byron, Fichte, and other Romantics in their belief that nations--not just individuals--must uphold honor and be held accountable for crimes. Fletcher writes that ideas about collective glory and guilt are far more plausible and widespread than liberal individualists typically recognize. But as he traces the implications of the Romantic mindset for debates about war crimes, treason, military tribunals, and genocide, he also shows that losing oneself in a grand cause can all too easily lead to moral catastrophe.A work of extraordinary intellectual power and relevance, the book will change how we think not only about world events, but about the conflicting individualist and collective impulses that tear at all of us. (shrink)
This paper provides a Kantian interpretation of core issues involved in the trial following the terrorist attacks that struck Norway on July 22nd 2011. After a sketch of the controversies surrounding the trial itself, a Kantian theory of why the wrongdoer’s mind struck us as so endlessly disturbed is presented. This Kantian theory, I proceed by arguing, also helps us understand why it was so important to respond to the violence through the legal system and to treat the perpetrator, Anders (...) Behring Breivik, so respectfully before, during, and after the trial. I close by addressing the controversial issue now facing Norway: how capable is the Norwegian legal system to deal with cases involving extreme violence, including as committed by psychologically impaired mass murderers? (shrink)
In this paper I extend orthodox just-war terrorism theory to the phenomenon of extremist violence on behalf of nonhuman animals.I argue that most documented cases of so-called animal rights extremism do not quality as terrorism.
The words 'rebellion' and 'revolution' have gained renewed prominence in the vocabulary of world politics and so has the question of justifiable armed 'resistance'. In this book Christopher J. Finlay extends just war theory to provide a rigorous and systematic account of the right to resist oppression and of the forms of armed force it can justify. He specifies the circumstances in which rebels have the right to claim recognition as legitimate actors in revolutionary wars against domestic tyranny and injustice, (...) and wars of liberation against wrongful foreign occupation and colonialism. Arguing that violence is permissible only in a narrow range of cases, Finlay shows that the rules of engagement vary during and between different conflicts and explores the potential for irregular tactics to become justifiable, such as non-uniformed guerrillas and civilian disguise, the assassination of political leaders and regime officials, and the waging of terrorist war against civilian targets. (shrink)
Did the world change on September 11, 2001? For those who live outside of New York or Washington, life's familiar pace persists and families and jobs resume their routines. Yet everything seems different because of the dramatic disturbance in our sense of what our world means and how we exist within it. In A Delicate Balance , philosopher Trudy Govier writes that it is because our feelings and attitudes have altered so fundamentally that our world has changed. Govier believes that (...) there are ethical challenges we cannot ignore. From Plato and Aristotle on courage to Kant on revenge, to 20th Century philosopher John Rawls’s views on justice, Govier mines the world of philosophy to reflect on terrorism. Govier argues that moral complexities such as victimhood, evil, power and revenge, if properly understood, can provide a basis for hope– not despair. Govier walks the reader through this shift, challenging us to construct a new sense of the world and our place within it. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- PART I: DEFINING 'TERRORISM' -- On The Current Debate On Defining Terrorism -- What Is Terrorism? -- PART II: ETHICS OF TERRORISM OR CAN TERRORISM EVER BE PERMISSIBLE? -- Innocents and Non-Innocents -- Terrorism Against Non-Innocents -- Terrorism Against Innocents -- Collateral Damage -- Concluding Remarks -- References -- Index.
Terrorist violence is often condemned for targeting innocents or non-combatants. There are two objections to this line of argument. First, one may doubt that terrorism is necessarily directed against innocents or non-combatants. However, I will focus on the second objection, according to which there may be exceptions from the prohibition against killing the innocent. In my article I will elaborate whether lethal terrorism against innocents can be justified in a supreme emergency. Starting from a critique of Michael Walzer’s (...) account of supreme emergency, I will argue that the supreme emergency exemption justifies the resort to terrorism against innocents to avert moral disasters such as genocide and ethnic cleansing, provided that the criteria of last resort, proportionality and public declaration are satisfied. (shrink)
In this paper, I distinguish terrorism from other crimes and from war, noting that terrorism may be perpetrated not only by private individuals and members of nonstate organizations, but also that it may be ordered by the state. Since terrorism is illegal almost everywhere, I argue that the proper response to it is usually through law enforcement rather than military measures. In some circumstances, however, I content that even law enforcement procedures may be used by the state (...) to terrorize civilians. Since nonstate terrorism is usually intended to draw attention to social grievances, I conclude that eliminating terrorism requires addressing those grievances. (shrink)
Wretchedness and terrorism, and differences we make between them -- A theory of justice, an anarchism, and the obligation to obey the law -- The principle of humanity -- Our omissions and their terrorism -- On democratic terrorism -- Doctrines, commitments, and four conclusions about terrorism for humanity.
This essay investigates the possibilities and limits of interdisciplinary research into terrorism. It is shown that approaches that combine philosophy and international law are necessary, and when such an approach needs to be adopted. However, it is also important not to underestimate how much of a challenge is posed by the absence of agreement concerning the definition of terrorism, and also by the structural differences in the way the two disciplines address the problem and formulate the issues. Not (...) least, the discussion enables us to reach conclusions as to how terrorism research that combines philosophy and international law in particular, and interdisciplinary research into terrorism in general, can be meaningfully implemented. The individual aspects are clarified on the basis of the discussion surrounding justified measures for combating terrorism and the justification of the targeted killing of terrorists. (shrink)
Defining terrorism -- State terrorism and counterterrorism -- Complicity of the victims -- The consequences of terrorism -- Terrorism, rights, and justice -- Terrorism, supreme emergency, and moral disaster -- Is terrorism morally distinctive? -- Case study : terror bombing of German cities -- Case study : terrorism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This is the first comprehensive discussion of all the main philosophical issues raised by terrorism against the background of its past and recent developments. Prominent philosophers discuss definitions of terrorism, approaches to its moral evaluation, and the contentious subject of state terrorism. Also included are four case studies, showing how the concepts and arguments philosophers deploy in discussing violence, war and terrorism apply to particular instances of both insurgent and state terrorism, ranging from World War (...) II to September 11, 2001. (shrink)
This paper critically addresses two central aspects of Frances Kamm’s account of conceptual and evaluative issues of terrorism in ‘Terrorism and Intending Evil’, Ethics for Enemies (oup 2011), chapter 2. The paper engages with what Kamm says about cases in which an act done from a morally bad intention or motive overtly exactly mimics a justifiable act. I argue that in such a case, an actor’s intention to terrorise is more significant to the question of whether what he (...) or she does is a terrorist act than Kamm allows. I also press considerations that run counter to Kamm’s view that in such cases an actor’s intention or motive is not directly relevant to the moral permissibility of actions that harm other people who are not otherwise liable to receive that type and degree of harm. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Tough anti-terrorism policies are often defended by focusing on a fixed minority of the population who prefer violent outcomes, and arguing that toughness reduces the risk of terrorism from this group. This reasoning implicitly assumes that tough policies do not increase the group of 'potential terrorists', i.e., of people with violent preferences. Preferences and their level of violence are treated as stable, exogenously fixed features. To avoid this unrealis- tic assumption, I formulate a model in which policies can (...) 'brutalise' or 'appease' someone's personality, i.e., his preferences. This follows the endogenous prefer- ences approach, popular elsewhere in political science and economics. I formally decompose the effect of toughness into a (desirable) deterrence effect and an (un- desirable) provocation effect. Whether toughness is overall effi cient depends on which effect overweighs. I show that neglecting provocation typically leads to toughness exaggeration. This suggests that some tough anti-terrorism policies observable in the present and past can be explained by a neglect of provocation. (shrink)
It has been claimed that most of the world’s preventable suffering and death are caused not by terrorism but by poverty. That claim, if true, could be hard to substantiate. For most terrorism is not publicly recognized as such, and it is far commoner than paradigms of the usual suspects suggest. Everyday lives under oppressive regimes, in racist environments, and of women, children, and elders everywhere who suffer violence in their homes offer instances of terrorisms that seldom capture (...) public attention. Or so this essay argues, through exploring two models of terrorism and the points of view highlighted by each. (shrink)
: Since the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, the country has embarked on a so‐called war on terrorism. This essay argues that so‐called war on terrorism has used the pretext of responding to terrorist attacks in the U.S. in September 2001 to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have objectives other than stamping out terrorism. It further argues that war requires a moral justification that cannot be provided for either the war in (...) Afghanistan or the war in Iraq. (shrink)
I offer a hopefully compelling defense of the view of those whom I refer to as hard-core opponents of terrorism. For hard-core opponents, terrorism is categorically wrong and, therefore, morally and legally unjustified. I view terrorism as either equivalent to murder or man slaughter in domestic law, or equivalent to crimes against humanity or war crimes in international law. If my argument is compelling, at least two important results follow from it. First, that under no circumstances is (...)terrorism justified. And second, that even if my argument were to be compelling, it will not necessarily end debates about the nature, justification, or excuse of terrorism. (shrink)
Predicting terrorist attacks with prediction markets has been accused of being immoral. While some of these concerns are about the likely effectiveness of prediction markets on terrorism (PMsoT), this paper discusses the three main reasons why even effective prediction markets on terrorism might be considered immoral. We argue that these three reasons establish only that PMsoT cause offense and/or fleeting mild harm, and that, even taken together, they do not constitute serious harm. The moral issues considered are that (...) PMsoT: 1) create character-affecting perverse incentives, 2) desensitise society to tragic events, and 3) disrespect important ideals. In addition to arguing against the force of these three potential moral problems, it is also argued that societies and governments already endorse intelligence-gathering methods that are clearly more immoral than PMsoT in the relevant respects. We also argue that some circumstances require governments to cause non-serious harm to some people in order to protect and promote the rights and welfare of its citizens. We conclude that a government’s obligation to protect and promote the rights and welfare of its citizens outweighs the non-serious harm that could be caused by effective PMsoT. As a result, we recommend that the likelihood of PMsoT being effective is investigated more closely. (shrink)
The range of the aesthetic has expanded to cover not only a wider range of objects and situations of daily life but also to encompass the negative. This includes terrorism, whose aesthetic impact is central to its use as a political tactic. The complex of positive and negative aesthetic values in terrorism are explored, introducing the concept of the sublime as a negative category to illuminate the analysis and the distinctive aesthetic of terrorism.
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. (shrink)
It is facile and factually incorrect to represent suicide terrorists as simply seeking mass destruction, as demented or believing that they will be rewarded by "seventy-two virgins in paradise". In my book The Myth of the Closed Mind: Understanding How and Why People are Rational I felt it was important to deal with the issue of terrorism by consulting explanatory theories of human behaviour and the substantial research on the strategic pattern of terrorist incidents over the decades, led principally (...) by Professor Robert Pape of Chicago University. -/- To defeat your enemy, you must first understand him. Strangely, we must first grant that, though morally depraved, terrorists are rational: they concoct and execute detailed plans with definite strategic goals in mind. Only once we have granted the terrorist a rational mind can we, in the end, create peace. My argument is that while religion may have a small role in terrorism, it is principally politics, or the logic of territorial control, that is the key to understanding the threat we face. -/- This extract from my book is principally about Al Qaeda, but a similar analysis applies to ISIS, the current greatest threat to our peace in the west. -/- The strategic goal of Al Qaeda was simply to repulse what they saw as foreign intervention. ISIS has the same goal, but in order to continue its growth as a state in the sense of a monopoly of coercion over a given geographical area. -/- ISIS, a rogue state that arose in ungoverned space created unintentionally by foreign intervention in Iraq, is now lashing out at foreign governments that have severely shrunk the territory ISIS occupies. Before October 2015, ISIS confined its terrorism to the goal of extending its territory in Iraq and Syria, and there were no significant ISIS-led or inspired suicide terrorist attacks outside Iraq and Syria. But now, as their territory collapses, they are attacking the countries that have strangled their control of territory in Iraq and Syria: the coalition of western governments – Britain, Belgium, Canada, France, Morocco, Turkey, Russia, the U.S.A. and others – exactly the countries that have recently seen an explosion of suicide terrorism. (shrink)
It is inherent in the concept of a terrorist act that it aims at an effect very much larger than the direct physical destruction it causes. Proponents of what used to be called the 'propaganda of the deed' also believed that in the illuminating glare of terror the vulnerability of a corrupt ...
This articles exposes the methodological errors involved in attempting to operationalize or value-neutralize the concept of 'terrorism.' It defends, instead, an effects-based approach to the taxonomy of 'terrorism' that builds out from a central conceptual connection between the term's negative connotation and a widely shared moral presumption against the killing of innocent non-combatants. Although this approach to the core meaning of 'terrorism' is far from value-neutral, it has a number of virtues to recommend it. First, it has (...) the political virtue of even-handedness in the way it enables competing appraisals of asymmetric conflicts. Second, it is has the ethical virtue of being flexible enough to accommodate nuanced appraisals of various modes and degrees of terrorist violence. And third, it has the empirical virtue of being useful for purposes of rigorous social scientific research. (shrink)
We introduce the concept of "organizational terrorism" to describe dysfunctional leaders who are abusive and who treat organizational members with contempt and disregard. After identifying the moral duties of leaders in organizations, we explain how organization members respond to their dissatisfaction with organizations through Exit, Voice, Loyalty, or Neglect. We explain why exercising voice is the most effective moral choice in dealing with dysfunctional leaders.
Recently, there has been a heavy debate in the US about the government’s use of data mining in its fight against terrorism. Privacy concerns in fact led the Congress to terminate the funding of TIA, a program for advanced information technology to be used in the combat of terrorism. The arguments put forward in this debate, more specifically those found in the main report and minority report by the TAPAC established by the Secretary of Defense to examine the (...) TIA issue, will be analysed to trace the deeper roots of this controversy. This analysis will in turn be used as a test case to examine the adequacy of the usual theoretical frameworks for these kinds of issues, in particular the notion of privacy. Whereas the dominant theoretical framing of the notion of privacy turns around access to information, most of the core arguments in the debate do not fit in this kind of framework. The basic disagreements in the controversy are not about mere access, they involve both access and use. Furthermore, whereas the issue of access by itself refers to a more or less static situation, the real disagreements much more concern the organisational dynamics of the use of information, the mechanisms in the organisation that control these dynamics, and the awareness present within the organisation of the ‘social risks’ these dynamics represent. The bottom line question is whether the assessment of these gives sufficient reason for trust. (shrink)
This paper discusses privacy and the monitoring of e-mail in the context of the international nature of the modern world. Its three main aims are: (1) to highlight the problems involved in discussing an essentially philosophical question within a legal framework, and thus to show that providing purely legal answers to an ethical question is an inadequate approach to the problem of privacy on the Internet; (2) to discuss and define what privacy in the medium of the Internet actually is; (...) and (3) to apply a globally acceptable ethical approach of international human rights to the problem of privacy on the Internet, and thus to answer the question of what is and is not morally permissible in this area, especially in light of recent heightened concerns about terrorist activities. It concludes that the monitoring of e-mail is, at least in the vast majority of cases, an unjustified infringement of the right to privacy, even if this monitoring is only aimed at preventing the commission of acts of terrorism. (shrink)
Prediction markets designed to predict terrorism through traders’ investments on the likelihood of specific terrorist attacks are, strictly speaking, enabling those traders to bet on terrorism. Betting on terrorist attacks, like some other forms of betting on death, has been accused of being repugnant. In this paper, it is argued that while government-backed effective intelligence-gathering prediction markets on terrorism (PMsoT) might elicit feelings of repugnance, those feelings are likely to be misguided. The feelings of repugnance arise because (...) PMsoT are assumed to be associated with terrorism in encouraging and endorsing ways and with human death in a disrespectful way. However, it is argued that these feelings of repugnance are misguided in the case of government-backed effective intelligence-gathering PMsoT because the purpose and effect of such prediction markets, and (on balance) the trading they encourage, is to prevent and renounce terrorism and show respect for matters of life and death. (shrink)
For the sake of developing and evaluating public policy decisions aimed at combating terrorism, we need a precise public definition of terrorism that distinguishes terrorism from other forms of violence. Ordinary usage does not provide a basis for such a definition, and so it must be stipulative. I propose essentially pragmatic criteria for developing such a stipulative public definition. After noting that definitions previously proposed in the philosophical literature are inadequate based on these criteria, I propose an (...) alternative, which I call the 'group-target' definition and which distinguishes terrorism from other forms of violence by the distinctive principle of discrimination used by terrorists to identify legitimate targets. I argue that this definition meets the criteria for a satisfactory public definition, and suggest that based on it there is good reason to suspect the adequacy of anti-terrorism policies that rely predominantly on forceful interdiction of terrorists. (shrink)
The contemporary discussion of terrorism has been dominated by deontological and consequentialist arguments. Building upon my previous work on a paradox concerning moral complaint, I try to broaden the perspectives through which we view the issues. The direction that seems to me as most promising is a self-reflexive, conditional, and, to some extent, relational emphasis. What one is permitted to do to others would depend not so much on some absolute code constraning actions or on the estimate of what (...) would optimize overall the resulting well-being but on the precedents that the past actions of those others provided, on the relationships among the participants, on tacit or explicit offers and possible agreements among them, and on the reciprocity (or lack thereof) that ensues. (shrink)