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Terrorism and the Right to Resist
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  • Cited by 4
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Finlay, Christopher J. 2018. The Deadly Serious Causes of Legitimate Rebellion: Between the Wrongs of Terrorism and the Crimes of War. Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 12, Issue. 2, p. 271.

    Van Goozen, Sara 2018. Sharing the costs of fighting justly. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, p. 1.

    Christensen, James 2018. Arming the Outlaws: On the Moral Limits of the Arms Trade. Political Studies, p. 003232171875451.

    Schwenkenbecher, Anne 2017. The Nature of Peace and the Morality of Armed Conflict. p. 123.


Book description

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.


‘Finlay's book fills an embarrassing gap in the just war literature, giving the difficult topic of the ethics of armed resistance against oppression the attention it deserves. The writing is lucid and the analysis is systematic and thoughtful. Anyone writing on these issues will have to take his view into account.'

Allen Buchanan - Duke University, North Carolina

'Finlay offers a lucid, persuasive and comprehensive extension of revisionist just war theory to cases of resistant violence. This will be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the ethics of revolutionary violence, partisan warfare and terrorism.'

Kimberly Hutchings - Queen Mary, University of London

'Finlay’s Terrorism and the Right to Resist is the single best work to date on the morality of wars of revolution or insurgency. Although it is a tightly argued work of analytic philosophy, the range of Finlay’s scholarship is very broad. Rejecting many of the elements of the traditional theory of the just war, he works mainly within the framework of a revisionist understanding of the morality of war. Yet he also draws on resources, such as the writings of Arendt and Fanon, developed outside the analytic tradition. His arguments are richly informed by a wide knowledge of the law of armed conflict, the history of war, and political theory. This timely and important book is in all respects an enormously impressive achievement.'

Jeff McMahan - White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford

'… Finlay’s ‘nuanced, careful’ but rigorous approach … is exactly what the subject requires. It becomes plain that important issues of moral and political philosophy are engaged with … modern conflict is increasingly asymmetric, setting states against a variety of non-state opponents. Finlay’s study embraces non-violent resistance to the state (as a possible option), rebellion and revolution. Terrorism, though, as Žižek’s summons to arms shows, is probably best regarded as a means to an end, however ill-defined that end may be … [this book] is for those willing to follow a sustained argument, whether or not they agree with the conclusions, and in that [Finlay] undoubtedly succeeds.'

David Bentley Source: International Affairs

'Christopher J. Finlay’s new book is a sophisticated account of the ethics of revolutionary violence. … those working on the ethics of revolution will benefit by considering carefully his views.'

Eamon Aloyo Source: Global Governance

‘Christopher J. Finlay provides in his book a systematic account of the ethics of armed resistance … His account contributes to the growing post-Walzerian revisionism about the morality of war (led chiefly by Jeff McMahan). Yet it carves its own distinctive space by rejecting the notion, which many revisionists seem to implicitly accept, that we can morally evaluate armed conflicts simply by doing normative ethics; rather, Finlay recognizes that morally evaluating armed conflicts in general and armed resistance in particular requires doing political theory as well … The result is a vital, original contribution not only to the ethics of revolutionary violence but to the morality of war writ large … Finlay has provided a much-needed and outstanding contribution to the ethics of war.’

Saba Bazargan-Forward Source: Ethics

'This is an in-depth, systematic study of an important and timely dimension of the phenomenon of violent resistance or rebellion. After a brief period in the post-Cold War era, in which many were lulled into believing we had entered a stage of democratic transition and the abandonment of guerilla war and terrorist tactics (by the IRA, the ANC and the PLO), we are now back to considering the ethics of armed force as it is used in the struggle to secure human rights against domestic tyranny or foreign injustice.'

Margaret Moore Source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

‘Who doesn’t believe that people have a right to resist their rulers in at least some social contexts that may be described as 'oppressive', 'tyrannical', or 'unjust'? So starts Christopher J. Finlay’s scholarly analysis of legitimate armed resistance. In the 300 pages that follow, Finlay presents a philosophically astute answer to his own question, which has all the virtues of first class scholarship: originality, provocativeness, exhaustiveness and analytical rigour … Finlay’s book is priceless to anyone working on just war theory, and political violence in general.’

Vittorio Bufacchi Source: Political Studies Review

‘… informed by an extensive knowledge of international law and … richly illustrated with historical and contemporary examples of armed resistance [Finlay’s] theory is topical, erudite, and fills a gap in the existing philosophical literature on war. … In sum, Finlay offers a timely contribution to the philosophy of war by significantly advancing the theory of revolutionary war.’

Hadassa Noorda Source: Philosophy and Law

'… meticulously argued …'

Dustin Ells Howes Source: Perspectives on Politics

'Finlay’s book … adds a new dimension to the corpus of analytic philosophical writing on the ethics of war and provides a distinctive vantage point from which to think about insurgency … there is enough here to provide rewarding reading, whatever one’s own thinking may be.'

James Turner Johnson Source: Ethics and International Affairs

'… informed by an extensive knowledge of international law and … richly illustrated with historical and contemporary examples of armed resistance [Finlay’s] theory is topical, erudite, and fills a gap in the existing philosophical literature on war. … In sum, Finlay offers a timely contribution to the philosophy of war by significantly advancing the theory of revolutionary war.'

Hadassa Noorda Source: Law and Philosophy

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