Most people strongly condemn terrorism; yet they often fail to say how terrorist acts differ from other acts of violence such as the killing of civilians in war. Stephen Nathanson argues that we cannot have morally credible views about terrorism if we focus on terrorism alone and neglect broader issues about the ethics of war. His book challenges influential views on the ethics of war, including the realist view that morality does not apply to war, and Michael Walzer's defence of attacks on civilians in 'supreme emergency' circumstances. It provides a clear definition of terrorism, an analysis of what makes terrorism morally wrong, and a rule-utilitarian defence of noncombatant immunity, as well as discussions of the Allied bombings of cities in World War II, collateral damage, and the clash between rights theories and utilitarianism. It will interest a wide range of readers in philosophy, political theory, international relations and law.
Stephen Nathanson is Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of Should We Consent to Be Governed? (1992, 2000) and of numerous articles on the death penalty, patriotism and economic justice.
Introduction; Part I. Terrorism: What's in a Name?: 1. The problem of defining terrorism; 2. Defining terrorism; 3. What makes terrorism wrong?; 4. Innocence and discrimination; 5. 'Who dun it' definitions of terrorism; Conclusion: taking stock; Part II. Why Moral Condemnations of Terrorism Lack Credibility: Introduction: toward morally credible condemnations of terrorism; 6. Why standard theories fail to condemn terrorism; 7. Just war theory and the problem of collateral damage; Conclusion: categorical vs. conditional criticisms of terrorism; Part III. Defending Noncombatant Immunity: Introduction: the ethics of war-fighting: a spectrum of possible views; 8. The realist challenge to the ethics of war; 9. An ethic of war for reasonable realists; 10. Walzer on noncombatant immunity as a human right; 11. The supreme emergency exception; 12. Rights theories, utilitarianism, and the killing of civilians; 13. Immunity rights vs. the right of self-defense; 14. A rule utilitarian defense of noncombatant immunity; 15. Why utilitarian criticisms of noncombatant immunity are mistaken; 16. Is noncombatant immunity a 'mere' convention?; Part IV. How Much Immunity Should Noncombatants Have?: Introduction: the problem of collateral damage; 17. The problem of collateral damage killings; 18. The ethics of collateral damage killings; Conclusion: terrorism and the ethics of war; Bibliography; Index.