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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S110-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2006
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

In recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in the philosophical and ethical analysis of terrorism. Despite this, ‘terrorism’ remains a contested and difficult concept. The reasons for this are obvious: ‘terrorism’ is a highly charged term often used in rhetorical and inconsistent ways (as suggested by the old saw that ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’). Philosophical debate has focused on two related areas. The first concerns how terrorism should be defined. This debate has revolved around four broad questions: 1) Who are the victims of terrorism? 2) Who are its agents or perpetrators? 3) What are the distinctive ends or goals of terrorism? 4) What are its tactical or operational features? The second area of debate concerns the moral evaluation of terrorism. A key question here is whether terrorism is always wrong, or whether there can be cases in which it is morally justified.

Citing this article:
Rodin, David. Terrorism, 2006, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S110-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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