Terrorism Unjustified: The Use and Misuse of Political Violence

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9781442253513: Terrorism Unjustified: The Use and Misuse of Political Violence
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Vicente Medina challenges common misconceptions and excuses for extreme political violence. Countering such axioms as “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” and the “do whatever it takes” attitude toward counter-terrorism, Medina differentiates between justified political violence and unjustifiable terrorism. Surveying terrorism with both historical and contemporary examples, Medina dispels the relativism and emotional responses that have been used by some to justify terrorist acts. Medina draws on philosophical concepts like just war theory while adding social and political science perspectives to contextualize today’s terrorism within current international law and moral attitudes.

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About the Author:

Vicente Medina is associate professor of philosophy at the Seton Hall University. Among his publications are "Militant Intolerant People: A Challenge to John Rawls' Political Liberalism," Political Studies, vol. 58, no. 3 (2010), "Unconditional vs. Conditional Critics of Terrorist Violence: A Seemingly Endless Debate," Public Affairs Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 4, (2006); "Locke's Militant Liberalism: A Reply to Carl Schmitt's State of Exception," History of Philosophy Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 4 (2002); and Social Contract Theories: Political Obligation or Anarchy? (1990).

Review:

In this excellent and balanced analysis, the author, an associate professor of philosophy at Seton Hall University, examines the philosophical issues involved in whether it is justified or not to engage in terrorism to achieve one’s objectives.... There is much to commend in this insightful account, including the author’s working definition of terrorism as ‘the use of political violence by people who deliberately or recklessly inflict or threaten to inflict substantive undeserved harm on those who can be conceived of as impeccably innocent, aiming at influencing a domestic or an international audience.’ (Perspectives on Terrorism)

Vicente Medina’s new book, Terrorism Unjustified, is a welcome addition to a crowded field because it provides a theoretically informed treatment of several very difficult questions. By guiding his readers through the history of modern terrorism and the complexities involved in defining the term, and by helping us to think through what it takes to justify political violence—and, in particular, the bases of those judgments—Terrorism Unjustified makes a powerful argument that terrorism is 'categorically wrong.' (Interpretation)

Terrorism Unjustified is a powerful and sustained defense of the view that terrorism can never be morally justified, even in the service of ends that are just. It contains detailed criticisms of more permissive views as well as valuable discussions of the concept and history of terrorism. This book is a significant and admirable contribution to the philosophical literature on these vitally important issues. (Jeff McMahan, White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxford University)

Vicente Medina demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of the literature on the ethics of war and terrorism, both contemporary and historical. His definition of terrorism is careful and plausible, scrupulously distinguishing terrorism from other violent acts. This book will be of interest to any readers interested in current affairs, as well as to ethicists and political theorists. (Alan Goldman, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities and Philosophy, College of William & Mary)

Vicente Medina does a nice job of combining historical study with close scrutiny of philosophical arguments. As a result, Terrorism Unjustified should be especially useful for readers who want to sort through the often confusing claims made by scholars, policy-makers, and combatants about when, if ever, wars or terrorism are justified. (Chris Herrera, Montclair State University)

Vicente Medina, one of the most accomplished Hispanic scholars in the USA, gives us a groundbreaking book that challenges common assumptions about political violence and deals with such difficult and timely issues as when and why terrorism is unjustified. (Gregory Fernando Pappas, Texas A&M University)

"[This book’s] most valuable aspect is that its second half centers around the hardest (but not very often openly debated) question in terrorism ethics: what if we are faced with a situation, when, however much we would like to condemn terrorism, we have no other choice than to make use of terrorism? I do not know of any other book in which this crucial topic has been given so much attention. It is this aspect that makes reading it a must for everyone interested in the ethics of terrorism....Medina's book is an important contribution and one that propels our ethics of terrorism to a new and higher level." (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

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