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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 28, 2012

Freedom, Religion, and Gender

Stephen Nathanson
Pages 187-198

Terrorism and the Ethics of War
Responses to Joan McGregor, Sally Scholz, and Matthew Silliman

The primary thesis of Terrorism and the Ethics of War is that terrorist acts are always wrong. I begin this paper by describing two views that I criticize in the book The first condemns all terrorism but applies the term in a biased way; the second defends some terrorist acts. I then respond to issues raised by the commentators. I discuss Joan McGregor’s concerns about the definition of terrorism and about how terrorism differs from other forms of violence against innocent people. I respond to Sally Scholz’s challenges to my interpretation of innocence. She argues that soldiers can be innocent victims of terrorism and that both relationships and vulnerability are important to understanding innocence. Matthew Silliman questions my defense of utilitarianism and challenges two views that I defend: that all terrorist acts are wrong and that war can sometimes be right. I sketch brief responses to these important points.

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