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Terrorism and the Ethics of War

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  • Date Published: June 2010
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521137164

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About the Authors
  • 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
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "...It ties together a wide range of arguments widely debated since 9/11 in an exceptionally tidy and readable form. A detailed defense of this frequent account of terrorism makes the first five chapters of the book well worth reading... Nathanson's lengthy critique of Walzer is one of the most central and powerful sections in the book.... "
    --Tamar Meisels, Tel-Aviv University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "....Clear, comprehensible, and thorough, this volume is also a personal work, showing a philosopher passionately going about the nuts-and-bolts work of argument and analysis on a contentious subject.... Recommended...."
    --S.D. Lake, Trinity Christian College, CHOICE

    "...Stephen Nathanson has written a fine book on terrorism and its relation to the ethics of war. It is comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and full of close argument, shrewd insights, and sober judgment.... he achieves a clarity of presentation and simplicity of style that make the book very accessible. His use of realistic examples is another significant and engaging aspect of his approach.... the book’s most original feature is Nathanson’s attempt to defend an absolute prohibition on the resort to terrorist acts by using rule utilitarian reasoning to ground an absolute commitment to noncombatant immunity.... There are many other interesting topics addressed by Nathanson, and his excellent book will repay study by anyone concerned with the urgent conceptual and moral complexities posed by terrorism and war."
    --C.A.J. Coady, University of Melbourne, Social, Theory and Practice

    "...Overall, Nathanson's book should appeal to academic professionals working in the fields of analytic ethical philosophy or normative political theory, and it will make suitable reading for related graduate and advanced undergraduate courses."
    --Mark Rigstad, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521137164
    • length: 328 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 6 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    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.

  • Author

    Stephen Nathanson, Northeastern University, Boston
    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.

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