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.
• Contains a sustained defence of noncombatant immunity • Discusses both intentional attacks against civilians and unintended 'collateral damage' harms to civilians • Discusses parts of a Human Rights Watch evaluation of the first stage of the US war in Iraq
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.
'In this carefully argued work, Stephen Nathanson has brought together two areas, terrorism and the ethics of war, too often treated separately. The result is new moral clarity and insight in both areas, especially regarding the moral treatment due to civilians by purveyors of military violence. This work is particularly valuable for those seeking a moral understanding of terrorism and an appreciation of what they must do to make their condemnation of terrorism morally credible.' Steven Lee, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York