Sacred Cows and the Changing Face of Discourse on Terrorism: Cranking it Up a Notch

Michael Levine, S. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ethicists working in either ‘just war’ and/or ‘human rights’ traditions continue to beembroiled with the definition of terrorism and the question of whether terrorism can ever be morallyjustified; obsessed with non-combatant immunity and criteria for distinguishing combatants fromnon-combatants; and examining ‘the doctrine of double effect’. The move to other issues has,however, been embraced by those who initiated it since 9/11, those with new ideas and analysesthat draw from many disciplines. We will discuss why philosophical/political discussion aboutterrorism has taken a turn away from questions like ‘can terrorism can be morally justified’ andefforts to define terrorism. Discourse on terrorism, much of it extra-philosophical, has taken aturn for the better. It is increasingly concerned with issues about the nature of terrorism ratherthan its definition; the nature of the discourse itself about terrorism, and what this tells usabout terrorism; and the causes of terrorism – the examination of which is subverted by thediscourse on terrorism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-371
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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