Foundations for the Decline of Terrorism
Chapter One: Terrorism and Alterity 1
Chapter One Terrorism and Alterity From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence—and then adds one cher- ished case in which it may be justified.—Gloria Steinem Introduction As scholars will point out, Gloria Steinem’s remark is not strictly true. She ignores absolute pacifist ideologies like those espoused by Gandhi and the Jain prophet Mahavira among others. Nevertheless, she does capture the vast majority of views on the acceptability of violence. When asked to ponder the acceptability of violence in a time of quiet reflection, almost any given indi- vidual will list the reasons it is abhorrent: Human life is sacred; violence causes unnecessary pain and suffering; those who suffer violence tend to be- have violently toward others. Then, upon still further reflection, that same individual who listed the reasons why violence is an inherent evil will likely list the sorts of ‘undesirables’ who must necessarily be dealt with using such unfortunate means: murderers, rapists, war criminals, child abusers etc. Not every moral reasoner will include the same kinds of undesirables in his list of acceptable candidates for violence. Nor will every moral reasoner will give the same justification for the violence to be done to the undesir- ables. Some will argue on the basis of getting what one deserves, others will argue on the basis of retribution, and still others other will argue on the basis of some form of practical necessity. Because it is so easy to become entan- gled in the strands of this conundrum, it...
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