Chapter 19 Essay Questions

Chapter 19 Essay Questions


1.   This chapter considers the proposal that terrorism can be morally justified only if it (i) aims at a morally good goal, (ii) does not impose more harm than is needed to achieve this goal, (iii) is required to end a practice that is itself morally horrible, and (iv) is used as a last resort. These are given as necessary conditions. Do you think they are also sufficient? Assuming that terrorism can sometimes be morally justified, is this the correct list of the conditions under which it can be justified? Explain your answer.


2.   Use the case of terrorism to contrast Kantian ethics and consequentialist ethics. Could a Kantian ever claim that terrorism is justified? Could a utilitarian ever support an absolute ban on terrorism?


3.  In your opinion, what is the strongest argument in favor of an absolute ban on terrorism? Write an essay in which you present this argument and present one strong objection to this argument.


4.   What constraints does Walzer think that we must respect when responding to terrorism? Do you find these constraints to be reasonable? Why or why not?


5.   What, according to Walzer, is the “particular evil” of terrorism? What distinguishes terrorism from other kinds of crimes? Does terrorism’s distinct nature have any implications for how we should combat it? Explain and defend your answer.


6.   What definition of terrorism does Held reject? Why does she reject it? What definition does she seem to accept? Do you agree that the definition she ultimately suggests is a better definition than the one she rejects? Why or why not?


7.   Held argues that some acts of terrorism, like some acts of war, are more justifiable than others. Write an essay in which you explain this argument. Present and explain what you take to be the best available objection to the claim that some acts of terrorism are more justifiable than others.


8.   What is “the dominant view” of terrorism? In your own words, present McPherson’s argument for why the dominant view is wrong. What do you consider to be the strongest objection against McPherson on behalf of the dominant view? How can McPherson respond?


9.  What is the “bend over backwards” rule? Explain what steps Nathanson thinks must be taken to satisfy the rule. Are those steps sufficient? Why does Nathanson think this rule is a better alternative to other accounts of when political violence toward innocents is warranted?


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