Volume 28, 2012
Freedom, Religion, and Gender
Sally J. Scholz
Innocence and Vulnerability
Comments on Terrorism and the Ethics of War, by Stephen Nathanson
In Stephen Nathanson’s important new book, he offers and defends a definition of terrorism that relies on a conception of innocence that blends both moral innocence and status innocence. I argue that this understanding of innocence needs to be modified in two ways. First, status innocence ought to incorporate the notion of opposition. It is not just in becoming a soldier that one sacrifices status innocence; it is in the context of war or opposition. Second, I argue that moral innocence understood according to a liability-based notion of responsibility is insufficient. It does not address the various relational elements of responsibility. To remedy that gap, I suggest that we add a vulnerability-based notion of responsibility together with the liability-based model for a more complete account of moral innocence.