The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 2007

Human Rights

Michael Giudice
Pages 17-21

Understanding Anti-Terrorism Legislation

There is widespread agreement that the significant threat of terrorist activity and the importance we attach to safety and security demands that terrorists and terrorist activity be stifled as quickly and effectively as possible. However, much dominant thought about the very nature or approach taken to anti-terrorism legislation has gone without critical reflection. Drawing on a recent article by contemporary political philosopher Ronald Dworkin, in this paper I shall examine whether the metaphor of a balance, with safety or security pitted against individual rights or civil liberties, is an appropriate way to understand or approach anti-terrorism legislation. To simplify matters, I shall depart from close consideration of Canada's new anti-terrorism legislation (in particular the new power of preventive arrest which it creates), with the observation that it is reflective of many other countries' legislative response to terrorism.