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Terrorism and the Ethics of War

by Stephen Nathanson

Terrorism and the Ethics of War Synopsis

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.

Terrorism and the Ethics of War Press Reviews

'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 ...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

Book Information

ISBN: 9780521137164
Publication date: 13th May 2010
Author: Stephen Nathanson
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 328 pages
Categories: Ethics & moral philosophy, Social & political philosophy, Terrorism, armed struggle,

About Stephen Nathanson

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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