Review Of "The Morality Of Terrorism" By H. Khatchadourian

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Khatchadourian (Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) draws upon his earlier articles on assassinations, just war, and human rights in this solid analysis of the morality of terrorism. He criticizes imprecise use of the term terrorism and adopts a working definition that includes history, social context, alternatives, motives, and the act itself. The essence of the book is an evaluation of terrorism using many political and philosophical approaches--natural or human rights, just war theory, liberation struggles, act and rule utilitarianism, and deontology. The author insists that terror, whether initiated from above (the state) or below, and counterterrorism must both be evaluated by the same moral standards. Using a careful definition (so that neither the attempted assassination of Hitler in World War II nor the Intifada qualifies), Khatchadourian concludes that terrorism is always morally wrong because it violates just war theory, destroys the immediate victim's natural right to life, and never results in success. Instead, terrorism is always counterproductive. Historians will be skeptical of this conclusion. Two appendixes apply his analysis to Israel's 20th-century history and provide working definitions of important terms. This book will be most useful to show advanced undergraduates how moral philosophers deal with issues of war and terrorism. Unfortunately, this reviewer has never read a scholarly book with more spelling errors.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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