by Ted Honderich
This is yet another revision, as of 4 March 2004, of a lecture to the International Social Philosophy Conference at Northeastern University in Boston. There is a summary of it at the end. The lecture takes forward reflections begun in the book After the Terror and then continued in a paper, After the Terror: A Book and Further Thoughts. Maybe this third offering on the terrible subjects in question will be the last from me for a while -- despite my not having got as close as may be possible to proofs or the like of some principal propositions. It must be easier to deal with the terrible subjects if strong moral convictions about Palestine or whatever come together with great confidence about the very nature of moral philosophy and the possibility of proofs. Still, silence or hesitancy is not an option. That is certainly not the habit of others. If I do not happily include myself among 'the best', I do remember the relevant lines of W. B. Yeats, whether or not he was of exactly my mind.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It is indeed necessary to remember that others, 'the worst' according to Yeats, no friends to people in bad shape, are not given pause or restrained by doubts about the nature of moral philosophy, or much else.
1. Some Particular Moral Propositions
Our failing to save the lives of Africans now living, 20 million in one sample, is wrong. Israel's taking more land from the Palestinians beyond its 1967 borders is wrong, as is our support of this neo-Zionism. Suicide-bombings by the Palestinians are right. 9/11 was wrong. The war on Iraq was wrong, unlike other wars that did not happen because we overlooked reasons for them. It is wrong for neo-Zionists in and around American government to conceal their divided loyalties, not to declare an interest that is other than American. African terrorism against our rich countries would be right if it had a reasonable hope of success. In our rich countries, those of us do a particular wrong who bring it about, by way of the media they own, that many people out of ignorance believe that what is wrong is right.1
These are some particular moral propositions that many people, possibly a majority of humans who are half-informed or better, agree with or find it difficult to deny. My purpose in what follows here is to look mainly at some philosophical issues that come up with the proposition about Palestinian suicide-bombing and also a more general proposition that has to do with what has the name of being terrorism for humanity.
You may ask, given my purpose, why propositions about more than terrorism have been mentioned.
It is the practice of courts of law not to let the jury know of the accused's previous offences, if any. His record, however, is read out if he is found guilty of the charge in hand. Among the good reasons is one that may be overlooked. It is that previous offences give confidence in the particular judgement of guilt that has been made on him by the jury. More obvious is the reason that previous offences give further basis and confidence with respect to the sentence to be passed by the judge.
No doubt the previous offences should be kept from the jury while they are deliberating on the present charge. They may give rise to mistake. But is absurd to say that these past offences have nothing to do with the question of whether he has committed the offence with which he is now charged, and in particular his culpability in it, say his degree and kind of intentionality. Of course they do. A man previously convicted of five rapes is very much more likely to have committed the one now being considered.
It is not only terrorists who are accused in our world. We are held to be guilty too. You have only to get on an airplane to another sort of country to be reminded of it forcibly, in more ways than one. They may try to kill you. And the accusation, for the sort of reason just noticed with the court of law, has more that is relevant to it than just the charge in hand against us, say active complicity in the wrong done for decades and still being done to the Palestinians.
Do you allow that this different kind of guilt by association is part of the natural fact and practice of morality, but say that strictly speaking it is a mistake, a kind of human weakness or failure? How is that? Records about actions X change probability-judgements about action Y, if X and Y are both instances of some Z. And probabilities about Y alter moral judgements about Y. The wrong of it can become clearer.
To ignore this is to lose touch with the reality of moral judgement. You can see that some complicity in a wrong, or a war, is an instance of a pattern of excessive self-interest and delusion. It is not something with special or unprecedented features, maybe historical, maybe a war on a monster, to which a lesser or excusing response is in order. It is also to forget our own practice. It is to forget that we ourselves do most certainly include the previous records of terrorists in judging their last wrongs. We do not stop there. We also include their whole cultures, and in particular their religion.
Do you still wonder if it is already a mistake, before we get around to this guilt by association, to attend to something other than terrorism, to attend to charges against us rather than charges against terrorists? You and I disagree there. Even if there were no connection between any of our guilt and any of theirs, it would be natural enough and no mistake to think about the two things together. Agendas are not let down from heaven, or decided in Harvard Yard. Asking a moral question about X can indeed get your thinking about the morality of Y, get you thinking about the whole of life rather than a part, particularly when X is taken as a kind of global event.
To disregard our own records, furthermore, even if there were no connection between them and terrorism, would actually be mistaken. A comparative viewpoint must enter into thinking about any such issue as terrorism, and terrorism for humanity in particular. Morality does indeed have what can be called data in it, and general truth, and certainly consistency. But it is a matter of more than reports and consistency-tests. It is a matter of judgement, and such judgement cannot be decently made in isolation or self-deception.
You will get a part wrong if you don't know about the whole. You will feel differently about the dirtiness of killings by others if you remember that you have had to wash your own hands regularly, and notice that there is a need to do so right now, maybe because of a lot of killings today. A proper reaction of the guilty to the guilty plays some part in morality.
That is not all. It is not just that we stand accused ourselves of particular offences to which more offences are relevant, and that pieces of moral and political philosophy do indeed have freely chosen subjects, sometimes with a natural unity, and that judgements need to keep the judges themselves in mind. That is not all. It is only persons of certain committed minorities who can pretend to suppose that there is no connection between any terrorism and charges against us. There must be the possibility, to say no more than this, that some of what we do, say with respect to Palestine, enters into a justification for some terrorism. Blair, the leading politician of my country, says otherwise. But that incidental proof of my proposition is not needed.
2. Killing Innocents, and the Problem of an Impulse About It
Contemplate two acts of killing. The first is by a young Palestinian suicide-bomber of an Israeli in Israel, a passer-by. The second killing, by a crew-member of an Israeli helicopter-gunship, is by rocket. Those who die, in Palestine, are a terrorist leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement -- Hamas -- and a Palestinian passer-by. You may recoil from such examples, maybe humanly. But you cannot simply recoil and also do well in thinking and feeling about our subject-matter. It plainly calls for more rather than less engagement. Also a wide human sensitivity rather than a narrow one.
The victim of the suicide-bomber and the second victim of the man in the gunship, two two passers-by, are non-combatants, civilians, and, as at least their own people say, innocents. If they are children they are innocents, even if they are or have been throwing stones. We might think about trying to improve on these categories a little, by replacing them with the categories of non-combatants, unengaged combatants, half-innocents, clear innocents, and civilians.
Non-combatants are not armed or otherwise personally life-threatening at the time of their deaths, and are not in the army or police or any other life-threatening organization, say a terrorist one. We could decide to add that they are not officers of state or certain organizations either.
Unengaged combatants are not armed or personally life-threatening at the time, but are in the army or other life-threatening organization. Maybe they make bombs or maintain helicopters. We could add that they may be officers of state, overwhelmingly more responsible for wrongs than are engaged combatants.
Half-Innocents are not armed or otherwise personally life-threatening at the time of their deaths, and not in the army or the like. These non-combatants and unengaged combatants, however, are by choice or consent benefitting or profiting from wrongful killings by their state or their people. They are as well-named as being half-guilty. They may be settlers on the land of those people they are not personally threatening.
Clear innocents are not life-threatening at the time, not in the army or the like, and are not by choice or consent benefitting or profiting from wrongful killings by their state or their people. They include almost all children.
Civilians, for what this fifth category is worth, may be non-combatants, half-innocents, or clear innocents. They may be none of these, but rather combatants and not half-innocents or clear innocents.
Very clearly these five categories need work in order to be made more determinate, particularly in connection with choice and consent. If they can be improved, they may still not be of great use, since we are likely to be unable to say who was or is in what category at the time of a conflict.
Since the beginning of the current al-Aqsa intifada in Palestine in September 2000, a total of about 2,100 Palestinians, of a population of about 3.4 million, have been killed. A total of about 700 Israelis, of a population of about 6 million, have been killed.
Of the 2,100 Palestinians killed, about 1,650 are said to have been "innocent civilians" by a good Palestinian source.2 About 100 were children under 12.3
Of the 700 Israelis killed, about 500 are said by a good Israeli source to have been "civilians".4 How many of the 500 were also non-combatants etc. is left open. An exact number for the very many fewer Israeli children killed is not readily available.
The figures are not merely dwarfed, but are made trivial or insignificant numerically, when compared to numbers of deaths, in the very many millions, owed to genocides and politicides carried out by states and governments.5 In particular, the deaths owed to the Palestinians, these deaths owed to non-state or non-governmental action, are barely anything numerically to the numbers of deaths in state or governmental genocides and politicides. The deaths owed to Palestinians are yet fewer, relatively speaking, when compared to state or governmental killings in war generally as well as genocides and politicides.6
Do these comparisons matter? Well, they may wake somebody up, somebody who has been exactly half asleep, but that is all. They do not matter at all to the Israeli family whose daughter and sister is killed by a bomb. This brings into focus a reason why the comparisons cannot really matter to us in these reflections either. There is a fundamental moral or human sense in which a death by killing does not become of less consequence when it is one of few or many such deaths. With a death, a whole world goes out of existence. It also seems this must override what complicates it, what was said about the reaction of the guilty to the guilty being some part of morality.
One question that arises about kinds of innocents and so on is whether it is possible to judge Palestinian and Israeli killings by staying at the level of the five categories, however improved. One way of trying to do so is by announcing, as a properly-respected philosopher of peace of my acquaintance does, that killing innocent people is wrong.7 In his view, as it seems, that is all there is to say. A human impulse, certainly.
Would he persist in this if asked for the rationale of killing non-innocents in his sense rather than innocents? Could he say that his announcement is of a moral truth that needs no rationale? Well, there is no avoiding the usual question about a terrible choice between killing one or a few innocents or killing many innocents. Does what we choose not matter? There is no avoiding a question, either, about the choice between killing a few innocents and allowing another horror, say the starving to death of many thousands of innocents, or a million of them. Do you say this proposition is in conflict with an implication above, about a single death and a whole world? I do not think so, and I am sure you are not going to succeed in making morality simpler.
If the questions to the philosopher of peace are distasteful and conceivably dangerous, they are necessary ones. To his credit, I doubt that he would say, in effect and obscurely, that he cannot be faced with such choices, and thus the need for a rationale, because he would not be responsible for the choice-situations -- or just that his own life's inner purpose precludes his doing any killing with his own hand.8
The fact of the matter seems to be that we cannot seriously even try to stay only at the level gestured at. There must be a reason for embracing the simplicity of the equivalence of very diverse and differently consequential killings of innocents. There must be a reason for the supposed non-comparability of killings of innocents and the other horrors.
Some reason is necessary for going against the distinctions written into the whole course of civilization, including its religion. We ourselves have defended immense numbers of killings of innocents -- in the naval blockade of Germany in World War One, in the terror bombing of Germany and the destruction of Hiroshima in World War Two. 9
Certainly, despite a common utterance to the contrary, some killing of innocents does not lead to more of it. Even if it does, to repeat the question, are there no circumstances, no human hells, that rightly call it up? Would a world without killing, no matter what else it contained, be better than any other world? No society has ever thought so. No society thinks so now. If societies are wrong about a lot, they can hardly be wrong about this.
So surely we cannot condemn Israel just on the ground of its killing of innocents. Nor can we condemn it efficiently on the ground that it is killing more innocents than the Palestinians. Further moral thinking is unavoidable.
3. The Morality of Humanity
It is no easy thing to see what ordinary morality comes to in all of its nature. It is easier to see what should be in an adequate morality -- a philosophical morality or the like. Such a morality, a proposal or recommendation for a possible or an actual world, must contain a single principle or summation or idea, or can have one put on it, and also secondary proposals or recommendations of parts or sides of life, say politics or business. It very likely needs to have in it moral data or moral touchstones, and also a preferred clarification of our shared moral concepts and their relations, say those of right actions, moral responsibility, and decent persons. Such a morality must contain, too, particular moral propositions like the eight with which we began.
Separate from all these elements will be reasons for them. These will be propositions of fact, larger and smaller, general and particular, of various kinds. They are as essential to the enterprise as the single principle and so on. No adequate morality is unreasoned. There will be propositions of fact at every level of the enterprise.
It is not being assumed, of course, that the more particular parts of adequate moralities are deductions from the more general. The generalization or summary is a way of getting the whole thing in view, and a particular kind of check on other elements, as they are on it. This picture of adequate or reflective moralities, I take it, covers those of Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Bentham, Nietzsche, Marx, and Rawls.10
It also covers the morality of humanity. This rests on our human nature and mainly on our desires for the great goods, six according to my classification, variously interdependent. The goods, under one description, are a decent length of life, say 78 or 79 years rather than 37, bodily or physical well-being, freedom and power, respect and self-respect, goods of closer and wider relationship, and such goods of culture as knowledge. That brief list, however, is so unenlightening as to the human importance of the things in question as to be a parody. It is as unenlightening to gesture by implication at lives deprived of the great goods, lives very different from those of well-being and perhaps satiety, sufferings of great evils, lives of wretchedness and other distress.
Morality of humanity also rests on other truths. A second, more or less implicit in the first, is that humans, or wonderfully more than enough of them for the purposes of argument, are alike in another way. 11 Consider yourself, and a certain judgement you will make. Consider a conceivable conflict between (1) you or your family escaping from wretchedness and (2) a further improvement for me or my family in my or our existing well-being, perhaps my having more of the great goods to the point of satiety. You will certainly judge there is greater reason for (1) the help for you or your family. You know that right now.
There is reason for the help, you will judge, that is greater than any reason offered by me for my self-indulgence. Say my reason of private property, or a morality of relationship and non-relationship, or a supposed categorical imperative about treating people as ends as well as means, or some theory about the need to help the wretched in general, as distinct from you in particular, maybe the trickle-down theory in political economics.
You will not be moved either by an invocation of any political morality or moral politics, say liberalism in its obscurity, or of course conservatism, or indeed socialism if it can be made use of in this unlikely cause, or of course the amorality of national self-interest, what is called political realism. Nor will you take your or your family's wretchedness to be a lesser reason than any so-called ethical as against merely moral reason of mine for self-indulgence, say my integrity, or my life-project, or a kind of personal necessity, or an absence of responsibility for what I can in fact prevent, let alone my moral luck and yours.12
Nor is this truth of human nature about distress and indulgence only a matter of contemplated or imagined circumstances. There are almost certainly analogues of it in actual conflicts in your own lived life. Consider life-threatening situations. You do not give more weight to the ambulance-man's not really exerting himself because he is badly-paid than you give to your own need to get to the hospital. You do not put the understandable self-concern of unrespected teachers ahead of your child's being saved from ignorance.
A third truth, never successfully denied except in practice, is that reasons are general. There are no one-case reasons. For you to be committed to the rescue of yourself or your family, in a contemplated or an actual circumstance, is for you to be committed to actual rescues in actual circumstances around us, say African and Palestinian circumstances. This is a rationality that cannot be avoided, whatever attempt is made to pretend otherwise or to obfuscate it.
Finally, there is the relevant truth of human nature that we have some dispositions of character that support this latter rationality. We can act on it. To act on it is to do what is also sympathetic, human, generous, and comes out of fellow-feeling. Those are not terms that describe nothing in us. If there are also clear wants of humanity in our natures, so demonstrated by conventional morality, there are the facts of sympathy and the like. Philosophical moralities that recommend themselves as undemanding, as realistic in that way, overlook or understate these human facts. To my mind, they must be under suspicion, along with the political tradition of conservatism, of wanting to reduce these facts in the aid of personal comfortableness.13
The morality of humanity owed to these four truths, to state its summative principle quickly, is that we must take actually rational steps, which is to say effective and economical ones, to get people out of defined lives of wretchedness and other deprivation. This is what it comes to. It is different from all other moralities and utterances in which the given truths of argument can be taken to issue, including the passionless vacuity of the Golden Rule, as lacking in content as it usually is in determination.
The main rational steps can be put into a few policies. These have to do with rescuing people from bad lives by means that do not affect the well-being of the better-off, with rescuing them by means that do affect that well-being, with reducing inequality-demands, and with violence -- the latter policy allowing for less exception than other policies against violence.
Of the rest of what might be remarked here about the morality of humanity, let me say only that it is more engaged in the world than alternative philosophical moralities, and by its nature not embarrassed to be so. For good reasons, it is more political. I take it to be more committed to factual truth than alternatives are. It thus speaks not only of the violation of Palestine by the Israelis, but also of Palestinian terrorism, of killing that rightly has that name. It does so despite this killing's also being resistance, resistance to ethnic cleansing, self-defence, a liberation-struggle, an uprisingof a people, which certainly it also is. Quite as much.
As you will have anticipated, I take the morality of humanity to issue, of course by way of various additional propositions of fact, some of them historical, in the particular moral propositions about the 20 million Africans, Palestinian terrorism, and so on. Or rather, because moralities can differ fundamentally in more than what can be called bare propositional content, and can have their distinctive nature in their kind of commitment, affirmation, mildness, resignation or pretence, it is better to say something else. It is better to convey the principle of humanity's resistance to a consensus of civility. It is better to say this morality issues, for present purposes, in roughly the following group of particular moral propositions.
Letting 20 million fellow human beings die makes the American way of life, say, into an evil giving rise to an evil. The Israelis have violated not only principle and law but also another people and their homeland. The Palestinians do indeed have a moral right to their terrorism, and would have this right even if their terrorism was not a response to state-terrorism -- to say they have a moral right is to say that their terrorism has the support of a moral principle of force, indeed the moral principle more capable than any other of justifying actions. As for 9/11, it was hideous and monstrous in its moral irrationality. Nothing else can be said of it. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, if conceivably rational in terms of a certain end, was another attack on humanity. Bush and Blair are moral criminals, whatever their capability of realizing it. They would be criminals in international law if that thing was what all victors and some lawyers pretend it to be. Blair has lied. Further, he is either a liar, a liar with ends about which he is confused himself and which he seeks to obscure, or he is in a way culpable in his persistent self-deception, in fact less honourable than a liar in his avoidance of evidence he does not want. Such information-providers as Murdoch and others who make for or add to the stupidity of a society have a guilt in at least their related self-deception.
4. Whether Some Terrorism Is for Humanity
There are more things to be said of how the morality of humanity can issue in or contain, in particular, a support for the kind of terrorism of which the Palestinian is an instance.
Terrorism for humanity is terrorism with the aim of the principle of humanity. That is the aim of getting people, including whole peoples, out of lives of wretchedness and other deprivation, bad lives, lives of great evils. Do you think there is room for a certain question? Do you think there is room for the question of whether the killings by the Israeli in the helicopter-gunship, rather than the killing by the Palestinian suicide-bomber, is terrorism for humanity? Some will say that.
It would be reassuring if the question of whether some terrorism has the end of humanity were always open to a confident answer. That is not so. There is often difficulty about deciding if a line of action, terrorism or whatever else, has, as we can quickly say, the end of humanity.
The matter comes into view by way of the invasion of Iraq. It was not in my view terrorism, given its large scale, despite being against what there is of international law and therefore akin to terrorism reasonably defined.14 Was this war aimed at saving people from bad lives owed to a dictator? Was it a war for humanity? Americans were told by their politicians that something like this was its justifying aim. The British, differently, being a people a little more affected by international law, had to be told by their principal politician that the justifying aim of the war was not bringing down Saddam but rather disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction that existed as an immediate threat against us. We could be killed by them in 45 minutes.
Did the war in fact have the end of humanity? The best sort of answer, perhaps, consists in pointing out that the war, like many such endeavours, plainly had a considerable number of aims.
One was trying to deter terrorism, including terrorism for humanity, by a demonstration of power against a suitable country. For this aim it was not essential that Iraq itself had carried out 9/11, or even contributed to it in any material way whatever -- although that belief by half or even two-thirds of the American people was useful, and larged owed to its politicians and other leaders. It was not necessary to the anti-terrorist aim that Iraq had done anything more than half the world does with respect to terrorism for humanity -- understand it, as some say.
The war aims also included control of oil supplies, certainly the removal of a possible defender of the Palestinians, the removal of an otherwise anti-American leader of great audacity, wider American interests and strategies, and the removal of one of the world's ruthless and anti-American dictators. These latter aims were not greatly less significant than the aim of deterring terrorism.There was also something less obvious. This was an ideological aim, the assertion of ideology as an end in itself, killing as assertion.
This needs to be distinguished from aims having to do with the satisfying effects of imposing an ideology, some of them just remarked on, including profits to American corporations. Killing as assertion is announcing what is right in such a way as to get attention, having the reassurance of being heard. It is also aimed at the comfort of having fewer moral critics in the world, fewer moral judges, or anyway quieter ones. It is related to what is known as the justification of punishment in terms of communication or expression, different from deterrence or other prevention. 15 Other forms of such self-expression, without the killing, are common enough.
The war on Iraq also had the aim of putting in place new international deferences and expectations, no doubt under the name of international law, and of course a significant aim having to do with American domestic politics. Not for the first time, people were killed in anticipation of an American president’s election campaign. There was also, on the part of an English prime minister, a lawyer-politician’s view of England’s material self-interest in maintaining an alliance. Who avoids the opinion that his careerism was also in it, talked of by his cabinet colleagues in terms of his anticipation of a place in history?
If you now ask again what counts as terrorism for humanity, one short answer is that it is that it is terrorism whose aim is more clearly the rescue of people from bad lives than was our war against Iraq. The war against Iraq serves as an excellent ostensive definition of what terrorism for humanity is not.
We get a further answer to our question by returning to Palestine.
The state of Israel ought of course to have been constructed out of a part of Germany after the genocide of the Jews. But that it had to be established somewhere is a kind of moral datum, certainly in accord with the the principle of of humanity. So too, to my mind, given what seemed to be the necessity and the particular possibilities at the time, was it right that Israel was set up where it was, partly by way of Zionist terrorism for humanity, and despite its being an historic injustice to another people.
That is consistent with the fact of the violation of Palestine by the neo-Zionism of Israel since 1967. This is indeed an offence of moral viciousness. It is an offence of both neo-Zionists and also those who travel with them, in Israel and the United States above all. It has the disdain of all Jews who are within that current of compassion in Jewishness, so free from legalism and divine revelation, clear and strong in its intellectual and other contribution to the struggle for humanity. This is the current of compassion of the Jewish Left, singular and to be honoured without reservation.
That the great goods have been wrongly denied to the Palestinians is made clear not by political history, let alone casuistry about who did what when, but rather by the figures for Arab and Jewish populations in Palestine since about 1876.16 There is only room for merely partisan dispute as to the proposition that one people took over the land of another. Any real dispute about particular numbers can only be trivial.
To speak more generally of the great good of a people that is their freedom and power in their homeland, its value has been better demonstrated historically than any other good. That it is one of few things that can be said to have formed our human history is a proof of this desire and the human worth of its satisfaction. It would be childish to try to disdain the worth of what our nature gives this proof.
The elucidation and explanation of the pain and suffering of its denial must must include its being necessary to other great goods, respect and self-respect above all. It is no surprise that Palestinians can now be made the objects by some Jews of a racism of which Jews themselves have had unique experience. Things of the same sort can be said of the necessity of freedom and power to other great goods.
It is my own view, importantly as a result of these facts, that the terrorism of the Palestinians is a paradigm case of terrorism for humanity, terrorism with the aim of humanity. The most salient of these facts is the established necessity of this terrorism, the clear absence of any alternative policy whatever for dealing with rapacity. The terrorism of the Palestinians is their only effective and economical means of of self-defence, of liberating themselves, of resisting degradation. It is to me ludicrous to contemplate Israeli state-terrorism, whatever else it may be called, has the end of humanity.
But that this or any other terrorism is terrorism for humanity is not enough to make it right. The thought that all terrorism with the aim in question is right would be as absurd as the thought, sometimes inexplicitly and viciously relied on, that more or less any policy or action of a democracy is right. The proposal, rather, is that the only terrorism with the possibility of justification is terrorism for humanity, as the only war with such a possibility is war for humanity.
5. Innocents, Our Fundamental Moral Concepts, Double Effect
It was maintained earlier about the two killings in Palestine and Israel that we cannot think about them only at a certain level, the level of a simple absolute about the kind of action in question, killing innocent people somehow defined. That is not to say that the only reflection that is needed is well above that level, at the level of such a general moral principle as that of humanity. Of course there is need for further thinking on killing the somehow innocent, and of how to approach it. To do so is of course not to join those spokesmen of democracy on television whose concern for the innocent is only for their innocent, not for the innocent killed by their democracy. This may actually be merely a concern for the innocent, their own innocent, in the enterprise of taking more land or keeping more land already taken.
Is it the case, in particular, that further thinking on terrorism for humanity in connection with innocents can establish that although terrorism for humanity has a unique possibility of being right, it nonetheless is not right, or that some instance of it, say Palestinian terrorism, is not right? That there is a disproof of its rightness?
Our fundamental moral concept is that of the right thing to do or bring about -- the right action, policy, kind of life, institution, society. The right action or the like is a matter of rationally-anticipated consequences. It is at least in large part a matter of the six great goods -- a decent time to live, bodily well-being rather than pain, freedom rather than subjection and impotence, respect in place of disdain and contempt, connection with others rather than isolation from them, knowledge and the preservation of the history of one's people.
To this concept of right action we add that of a person who gets moral credit for a particular action or the like, someone approved of for his or her moral responsibility for it. This is importantly a matter of his or her intentions. Thirdly, we tend to distinguish a person's moral standing over time, maybe a lifetime. Perhaps this is the result of both rightness in actions and moral credit for them.
That right actions are fundamental, these being a matter of certain consequences of actions, is in a way provable, in the following way. A certain world is conceivable. It has in it only persons who persistently or even consistently get moral credit, at bottom for good intentions and effort. As a result, their standing over time is high. But they are very ignorant and unlucky, and produce a world of misery. Another conceivable world has in it persons who get less moral credit and are of lesser standing -- a matter, let us say, of their mixed intentions. For whatever reason, however, their world is not one of misery but of well-being. Maybe almost all people in it have all of the great goods.
Does anyone, save an occasional moral philosopher with another agenda, hesitate when asked which world it would be right to bring into existence? An intention, after all, is not a spiritual mystery, a funny reality that is a source of obscure rightness. It is a mental event including desire and belief that both represents or pictures and gives rise to an action then or later, which mental event gets the person credit or not. Does anyone say it would be right to bring into existence a world filled with the agony of torture as against the good things of which we know, in order to have the world with better intentions in it?
That is not to say that moral credit and moral standing are irrelevant or unimportant. We want persons of credit and standing because they are more likely than others to do the right thing. Very differently, it may be that we need the many conceptions of credit and standing in order to have an adequate view of precisely the rightness of actions -- effects are typically characterized by likely causes, or indeed seen by way of them. But, as good as indisputably, these are but qualifications or elaborations of the truth that our fundamental concern is with how are world is in so far as we can affect it, our actions and not with certain personal antecedents valued for themselves.
This ordinary moral thinking, hardly at the level of moral philosophy, is typically forgotten or passed over in a salient condemnation of some killings of somehow innocent people. I have in mind such as the killings, by the Israeli crew-member in the helicopter-gunship, of the passer-by as distinct from the Hamas terrorist leader. This is contrasted, in terms of intention, with the Palestinian suicide-bomber's killing of an Israeli passer-by. The first killing is said to be right, the second wrong.
It is said the killer in the helicopter in some sense does not intend the death of the innocent passer-by, but only that of the Hamas leader, while the suicide-bomber does in this sense intend the death of the innocent Israeli. Of the two effects of his firing the rocket, the killer in the helicopter intended only one. There is therefore a difference in the two acts, the first being right and the second wrong. This is the doctrine of double effect.
It is not my main concern, but let us glance at it in passing. Against it, there is the easy and perfectly correct objection that the intention of the man in the gunship, ordinarily conceived, represents both the death of the Hamas leader and another probable death or deaths. For a start, we need to take the man in the gunship to be aware of the incidence of deaths of more or less innocent Palestinians -- perhaps, as indicated earlier, that there have been about three times as many deaths of more or less innocent Palestinians as against more or less innocent Israelis.
The probable death is of course a foreseen consequence. Do you bravely say it was only a probable consequence? Well, foreseen probable consequences, as against foreseen absolutely certain consequences, are not rare or unusual, let alone suspect. They are by far the most common sort of foreseen consequences, the ones we are mainly concerned with in life, the ones we generally act on. The probabilities may be high. An innocent death owed to a rocket fired into a busy street is about as probable as the consequence of playing Russian roulette with someone else's head.
Therefore, in terms of intention as conceived in the rest of adequate morality, and presumably in every legal system in the world, the killer in the gunship did intend more than the death of the Hamas leader. He knowingly did and can be held to account for more than that -- the death of the passer-by. So too, incidentally, does he add to the moral criminality of Sharon, the leader of his country.
Of course it can be maintained that there is a different sense in which the helicopter crew-member did not intend the death of the passer-by, also a clear one. If he could have killed the Hamas leader without killing a passer-by, we are to understand, he would have done this. But of course it is false that the suicide-bomber does not have such an intention. It must be taken as just as true of the suicide-bomber that if she could have acted effectively to try to liberate her people without killing a kind of innocent, she would have done this. The distinction, if different in detail from the other case, is as real and relevant.
No one can quarrel sensibly with this kind of refutation of the casuistic doctrine of double effect, so often put to such unspeakable use by ignoring facts of identical intentions. My main aim, however, is to add something to the refutation.
In brief, what is to be added is that while there are uses of our conceptions of moral credit and moral worth, mentioned above, there are also misuses of them. It is a misuse of the conception of moral credit to suppose that one can really begin to justify as right the action of the man in the helicopter by assigning to him the credit that if he could kill the one person without killing the other, he would do so. This is not our ordinary morality, but rather a self-serving misconception of it. It is not as if a double effect argument fails only because of its intrinsic weakness or indeed chicanery, but that it begins from a mistake.
Even if it were the case that the man in the gunship lacked an intention had by the suicide bomber, it does not at all follow that he would have been doing right, and that the suicide-bomber was doing wrong. There are no such connections. For example, there is no connection between having an intention that represents or pictures an unidentified human being, rather than a seen and nearby person, and the action's being right. Hosts of ordinary examples establish the contrary. And of course there is no significant general difference in intention.
To repeat, there is reason to reflect at more than one level about particular questions, one about innocents, that face any morality and are answered by particular moral propositions. That is to be granted, as it is also to be granted that it is insufficiently clear how things at different levels are related. But there is the overriding fact that what is right is at bottom a matter of our actions to change or keep the world in which we live, and that matters of credit and standing are no sure guides to this.
Any arguable morality will be like anything that deserves the name of being a court of law. It will disdain the defence of a killer that what he did was right because in a secondary sense he did not want to do what he did and what he knew he was doing. From the horror of killing the somehow innocent, there is no conclusion to be drawn except with the aid of or in the context of an adequate morality. Anything else is childish or at least suspect. It may be viciously self-serving.
6. Conventional Views
It is also my conviction, as you have heard, that there is a possibility of rightness with respect to terrorism for humanity, and thus Palestinian terrorism, and no such possibility with other terrorism. If that has not been proved for you, which I grant, you have most of the elements that can go into an attempt at proof -- the sort of proof possible in morality. Consider now another large thing that enters into resistance to any such thing. It is surely more effective than such propositions of argument as double effect.
In some societies, most importantly the United States, as already implied, it can seem that there is little or no assent to the possibility that terrorism for humanity is justified, let alone its actually being justified. So too with the others of the particular propositions with which we began, and which, as you have heard, give collateral support to the proposition about Palestinian terrorism and terrorism for humanity in general. It can seem that a large majority of people find them or say they find all but the one about 9/11 outrageous. There seems to be no assent, if there is a little lip-service, to the general morality in which the propositions are at home. Instead, a large majority of people appear to give assent to what can be labelled conventional views.
Whatever this fact really comes to, it contributes to a presumption. This is the presumption that what most people in our own societies think is right does at least have something to be said for it. In the fact of numbers and whatever goes with it, we are to suppose, there is a reason for thinking something right. There is no doubt this presumption has a grip on us. Anyway, it has had a grip on me.
Convention in moral thought, feeling and language, generally speaking, is a sameness or congruence in a society about what is right or who is to be credited with responsibility or who is decent. It seems a natural thing since it is not a code, and since people may follow it just because it has been followed before. The fact of convention is as old a society. So is the perception and valuation of it, and of how it comes about. Thrasymachus spoke of it to Socrates when he exposed the alternative truth, as he thought, that justice consists in the interests of the stronger. At the present moment of language in my own country, Britain, one part of the fact of convention is talked of in terms of governmental spin, which term in its tolerance is itself an instance of it. Spin is typically lying so done as make a denial of its nature possible later, maybe lying in order to get a people into a war or to increase your personal anticipation of having done right by your own dim lights.
Bacon, Burke, Mill and Marx gave different accounts of convention, Burke approving much of it under the name of prejudice. It is one thing clarified in detail by the great moral judge of this time, Chomsky. The fact of it has been properly studied by way of many related social facts. These are the facts of authority, legitimacy, legitimation, illegitimation, naturalization, consent, ideology, norm-construction, indoctrination in education, mystery and mystification, influence, propaganda, sacralizing, and demonizing.
To engage in the study of convention by these means is partly to engage in conspiracy theory. Plainly there have been and are conspiracies, which is to say secret plans to achieve or keep something about which at least a question arises. To deny all or even most conspiracy theory is to to oblivious of the history of monopoly and the pretences of free markets, relations between government and business or church and state, international trade-offs, hidden or obscured alliances, and so on.
What is more important with respect to the fact of convention is its being owed to the self-interest of dominant groups whose members act together not out of secret plan but partly out of a want of self-awareness, an excess of self-deception, and self-serving illusions having to do with the common good and the just society and the like. They have no need of a plan. Their interests fall together, which is the main fact about their endeavours, and these are served by their common convictions. They are more like a mob than a plot, if a mob with some decorum and with the rules on its side.
Is convention a larger fact now than it was in the past? Consider our culture of the past few decades, since about 1979. It has had in it, increasingly, profit in place of public service, competition and the pretence of it in place of cooperation, a new greed, the manufacturing of wants in place of satisfying them, buying raw materials and commodities from poor societies by victimization, market as morality, corporate engrossment, a sexualization of life that makes prostitution secondary, and so on. This culture, which does not have truth as its aim, is now a larger part of morals and politics. Governments are unable to see outside of it. So too, since about 1979, has there been a further domination of mass communications, which domination also does not have truth as its aim. It is rather an engine whose products are authority, legitimacy, and so on.
These two developments, at the very least a greater imbalance between sides of life, between profit-seeking and the other sides of life, and more of self-serving control or management of information and attitudes, may make the fact of convention a more consequential social fact now than it has ever been before.
7. Factual and Moral Truths
Despite the explanations given of conventional morality in terms of authority, legitimacy and so on, the presumption that what most people think is something like right can have a grip on you. The presumption itself is very likely more efficacious, as already remarked, than any other attempt to resist most of the eight propositions with which we began.
The presumption first faces the necessity and difficulty of making clearer and qualifying the actual fact of numbers on which it depends. Generally speaking, that was said to be most people, maybe a vast majority, finding certain moral propositions mistaken or outrageous, and presumably the reasons for them mistaken. The generalization runs up against, for example, the public opinion polls showing that half the British people were somehow against the idea that war on Iraq was right.17 It runs up against the fact that international charities such as the Red Cross and War on Want can effectively appeal to our bad conscience about Africa as well as our concern. It is also plain, about my own country, that the Palestinians have the sympathy of much of the population in their resistance to an army of occupation and suppression. The sympathy issues in such politicians' plans as the one in 2003, called the road map to peace.
Despite these several qualifications, it remains true that there is a fact, not simple, of kinds of majority-opposition in our societies to certain moral propositions. There are kinds and degrees of congruence in opposition to them or at least withdrawal from them. This is true of Palestinian suicide-bombing, which we have uppermost in our minds. It is true, somehow, of the killing of kinds of innocents. Why should the fact trouble those of us who are inclined to or committed to the morality of humanity and all the eight propositions?
The presumption of its moral importance, some say, in one way or another, has to do with the fact that two heads are better than one, and more heads are better than fewer. The community of scientists may be offered as an analogy. There are other expressions of the thing. Is the idea that more heads rather than fewer are a guide to relevant truths of fact as distinct from what can seem to be moral truths? Well, to be on the side of the common people is of course not to be committed to any such piety with respect to relevant propositions of fact. Science itself is the first of overwhelming obstacles to such piety.
No doubt, consistently with the realism about truth that traditionally has issued in the Correspondence Theory, there is pretty good evidence that it is raining in Texas if most Texans say it is. But there is extensive ignorance of the factual proposition about our natures that makes (1) anybody's wretchedness a stronger reason to him or her for something than (2) somebody else's satiety a reason for something else. It is more relevant than anything else with respect to the questions before us. To ignorance is to be added falsehood. That Iraq perpetrated 9/11 is not made less idiotically false by the fact that a majority of Americans believed it. So too with what has been remarked on already, the wretched falsehood by Blair that we were under immediate threat from Saddam, half-believed by many in my country for a while, and that this was the aim of the war.
In place of continuing this reminder of ignorance and mistake, absolutely necessary though it is in other contexts, let me qualify my scepticism about the connection between majorities or congruences and factual truths, and quickly draw a conclusion.
By way of qualifying the scepticism, can we not do more than hope that people come to believe factual truths about their politicians eventually, see whether they are straight or not? Have the British people not seen, differently, that the expropriation by privatization of their railways was not at all in their interest? Do all my neighbours in Somerset fail to see that it was not a good thing that their water fell into the hands of Enron? Have they not seen, in general, that what were called the public services were overwhelmingly in their interest? You may say that my hopeful examples of public knowledge are true to my politics, which is no surprise. But they serve as well as any to indicate a conclusion.
Taken together with what was said before, about kinds and degrees of public support or tolerance of radical propositions, we have the cautious conclusion about factual propositions that there is no clear, well-supported and significant generalization connecting majorities or congruences with morally-relevant truths of fact. I suspect a less cautious view is true, but it is unnecessary in order to defend the morality of humanity against conventional morality.
Are so-called moral truths different? We can have in mind not only such conventional denials of my particular propositions on Africa, Palestinian suicide-bombing, Iraq and so on, but also the recommendatory views and doctrines from which denials of the particular propositions issue. Here we face another reminder. It is a kind of consideration that could as readily have been used against the supposed recommendation of majority support for relevant propositions of fact.
It is not as if the many who hold the conventional moral propositions have thought them out or inquired into them. Nor have they been educated into them if education is different from indoctrination. They have not heard what can be said both for and against them, put them in a structure of argument, clarified the relevant concepts, or even heard an actual exposition of the conventional propositions by those who for whatever reason defend them. Those who hold the conventional propositions, as you have heard, have no adequate grasp of morally relevant factual propositions. They are unpracticed in the rationality of consistency. They have had no such instruction worth the name in the bits and pieces of patriotic language that help to identify what you can call a national consciousness. Nothing calls out for more analysis than talk of freedom, unless perhaps it is the American way of life.
What the many who incline to the conventional propositions have had, rather, is an induction into morality that indubitably is to be studied, in large part, in terms of all those ideas mentioned earlier -- authority, legitimacy, legitimation, illegitimation, naturalization, consent, ideology, norm-construction, indoctrination, mystery and mystification, influence, propaganda, sacralizing, demonizing and so on. There can be little doubt about this.
The forming of Americans, to continue to speak of them on account of their importance, is owed in large part to an ongoing history of which the basic fact is economic power. To describe it more enlighteningly, it has to do with different grasps on the material means to well-being, the most important means to the great goods, and in particular on political power. The basic fact of economic power is that the top tenth of Americans have 17 times the incomes of the bottom tenth, and a few hundred times the wealth of the bottom four tenths.18
Again it is not hard to draw a cautious conclusion, in this case about moral propositions. There can be no clear, significant and well-supported generalization connecting majorities or congruences with moral propositions that have the recommendation, in brief, of moral intelligence. This moral moral intelligence is a matter of judgement owed to knowledge and of practice in inquiry, not watching television.
Add in some historical episodes, including the German population's tolerance of the genocide of the Jews. Add the discomfiting and indeed destructive thought that different societies existing now have different and inconsistent conventional moralities, including different attitudes to various instances of terrorism. They can't all be right.
For all these reasons, it can seem to be a kind of dream that there is a decent presumption that what most people in a society think is right at least has something to be said for it. Presuppositions of it are a kind of mess. And yet the dream lingers, in more heads than mine.
8. Democracy, and a Conclusion about Convention
Does the lingering of the dream have a lot to do with democracy? Democracy is also about majorities, and it does certainly have a recommendation over most of the actual governments it has supplanted. If the outcomes of democratic elections have a recommendation, then so too, you may say, do the factual and moral beliefs that issue in the votes of the people -- i.e. conventional morality. Indeed any defence of democracy must assign some recommendation to the input-beliefs.
You may take the view that the main recommendation of democracy is that it leaves a people politically freer, or less politically unfree, than they are under certain alternative forms of government. More people get more of what they want -- whatever happens to other peoples. But that recommendation is less impressive if conjoined with the admission that democracy is about as likely as not to derive from mistakes of fact and morality, including mistakes about wants. That the democratic election gives you freedom takes a knock from one of them issuing from such factual and moral beliefs that it produced Hitler as the winner.
You will guess that at least a general scepticism about democracy, or rather our democracy, is basic to a general scepticism about conventional views, and to support of the eight propositions with which we began. To stick to the present point, it is indeed possible to think that recourse to our democracy is of little use in trying to explain why conventional morality should be accorded a significant respect. Indeed the history of reflection on illegitimation, mystification, sacralizing and so on is mainly reflection about our democracy.
To me, for the reasons you know having to do with income and wealth mentioned earlier, the most important means to well-being, our democracy is hierarchic democracy at best, indeed oligarchic democracy. By proper comparisons it is government of, by and for inequality rather than for equality.19 It is specifically not a decision-procedure that recommends the decisions made. In brief, it is not truth-governed.
You will anticipate that it also seems to me that the fact of convention, often but not always the fact of convergence on views that have a long history, gets no recommendation from the ideology of conservatism. An analysis of it in terms of its commitments to conserving things, its superiority to theory, its perception and promotion of a certain human nature, and its selective attachment to freedom and so on, can issue in a certain conclusion. That is not that it is uniquely self-interested, but that no recognizably moral principle supports that self-interest. 20
Even so, does the dream still linger that there is sense in what most people think is right? I confess to having hoped to find something or other of interest to say about this, something more or less philosophical. Perhaps some cautionary light on the obvious exceptions to principles and nostrums about the value of any rules as against none. Perhaps some stronger generality about working to change the rules rather than breaking them, or something about giving up violence as a precondition to negotiation, or about negotiation now because you will have to negotiate in the end. Perhaps some toleration of the people's deference to governments and states, which things in their genocides and politicides have, as remarked before, killed so many people as to make deaths by terrorism numerically trivial.
But is there any more to be said of majority views in our democracies? Is there any more in popular perception and wisdom than that those with bad lives know what those lives are like and see through our shams? In the absence of some clear thought about the recommendation of conventional views, about the people and truth, it is hard to resist a boring conclusion. It is that the dream that there is sense in what most people think is a dream that itself is part of the convention. The convention applies to and gives to itself an authority, legitimacy and so on. The convention, for which there is so little to be said, is not only about Africa and Palestine and so on, but also about itself. We philosophers and the like remain victims of what we only see a little better.
9. Actual Justification of Some Terrorism for Humanity
Of what else can be said here, one thing was more or less anticipated when it was remarked that from the felt horror of killing the innocent, no conclusion can be drawn but by way of some adequate morality. 21 This sort of morality was gestured at still earlier22 -- it is an articulation of a whole view as to how the world ought to be. It is to be added, or made more explicit, that there is the same need for such a morality in any strong reflections on killing the innocent.
This comes into focus immediately, by the way, with respect to both half-innocents and clear innocents -- they must be understood in terms of wrongful killings or other actions by their own state or people. To know an innocent, you have to make a reflective judgement on the innocent's state or people. Clear innocents, as against half-innocents, are not by choice or consent benefitting or profiting from wrongful killings by their own state or their people.
It is plain that to enter into the questions we have been considering, something general and clear has to be thought about our basic moral concepts -- right actions, moral credit, moral standing. It is as plain, to come up to where we are, that the only recommendation that conventional views could have is that they somehow express an adequate morality. Is it even conceivable, on final reflection, that we could have found a reason for going along with a majority if we did not have a hold on an adequate morality somehow to assign to them? The same question arises about trust in our democracy, indeed any democracy. It arises, more generally, about a residual inclination, despite the genocides and politicides, to support or accept state or governmental action, official action, as against other action.
Finally here, it is my own judgement that those who stand against most of the particular propositions with which we began cannot explain themselves by way of an adequate morality. But my present point is that nothing else will suffice. If you disagree with the propositions, what is the adequate morality by which you do so?23
The question of whether a campaign of terrorism for humanity is not only possibly but also actually justified comes down to whether it will work -- whether it has a decent probability of gaining the end in question, or more likely one of a range of related ends, at a cost that makes the result worth it. Those of you who are superior to what is misconceived as consequentialism, and is sometimes absurdly understood as the idea that an end justifies any means,24 will do well to reflect that the reasoning in question is of just the form recommended by the orthodox theory of the just war.
The terrorism for humanity that is most likely to pass this final test of rationality is liberation-terrorism, which calls up human and moral resources greater than any other terrorism. Palestinian terrorism, for example, was of the strength to see through and disdain the dog's breakfast of a Palestinian state on offer during the presidency of Mr Clinton. It will, I think, see through and disdain any other dog's breakfast.
You now have an idea of most of the materials for what proof can be given, in my view, of the moral right of the Palestinians and other peoples to their terrorism for humanity.25 I myself have greater confidence in it than before the war on Iraq. The lies on which that war was predicated, or at the very least the culpable stupidity of self-deception, has strengthened my confidence. I refer to that consideration of guilt by association mentioned earlier. To be against Blair is to be reassured.
Still, and sadly, this matter of confidence has more to it. It is not easy to escape contradiction, not easy to get to consistency. There is great reason to take terrorism as prima facie wrong, as a good definition makes it. It is possible to think that the factual questions in terrorism -- centrally the question of whether and how it will work -- are of yet greater diffculty than the moral questions. What of those terrorists for humanity who will never give up, not because they will win, but so that others may one day win? The moral questions, to revert to them, cannot be taken as entirely clear and readily manageable. You can understand a man who says his head blows up when he brings together the viciousness of the neo-Zionism and the murdering of an Israeli child.26
Do you, in the end, ask me how it is possible to contemplate rising over the horror of the killing of a child? How it is possible to rise over the horror to a justification of the killing? Well, I would like to have more confidence than I have, more than the war on Iraq has given me. But some things are clear, indeed obvious. There is also the horror that is the rape of a people. To avoid the shock of it, to be half-lulled by the unspeakable spokesmen on the television mouthing stuff about democracy and terrorism, is also to be in a state that is appalling.
It is also to be remembered that in a clear way there is nothing unusual about such a claim as that the Palestinians are justified in their terrorism. Exactly such a claim is made daily by and on behalf of the Israeli state -- explicitly or, less honourably, implicitly. Certainly its spokesmen are not informing us that what they are doing is wrong, maybe necessary and wrong. And there is nothing in between wrong and right -- there are not degrees of being right or of being wrong.
Do you stick to the judgement that both sides are wrong to kill? If you have an ordinary view on the issue that has resulted in the killing, the main and prior issue about Palestine, you should find it difficult to maintain your even-handedness about the killing. The ordinary view is that the Palestinians have an indubitable right to what is perfectly properly described as their homeland. Can you accord such a right to a people or a person and deny to them the only possible means of getting or keeping the thing to which you accord them the right? Deny them a means to which there is no alternative?
Evidently to do so is at best to accord them an empty right to the thing. It is, surely, not really to accord them a right at all. To grant someone a right, whatever else is involved, is somehow to support them in getting or having the thing. What support is given by saying a people has a right to what you then also say they have no right to get by the only possible means? Further, if the Palestinians do have a right to their terrorism, the Israeli state does not have a right to its terroism. It cannot be that both sides are justified in what they are doing.
Do you say that to assert a moral right to some terrorism is to give up a hesitancy that is part of proper moral philosophy?27 Well, claims of moral right, as watching television can remind you daily, are not abstract propositions, so to speak, or not only abstract propositions, but ordinary parts of conflicts, ordinary means to an end, weapons made use of to the fullest extent possible. If the side of humanity has always been served better by truth than the other side, it needs also to say the most for itself that can truly be said. To do less, in the face of those against it, is to fail in a kind of realism.
Is there arrogance in all this? Well, there is not much sense of personal ability or importance. There is a sense of the importance of the greatest of moral principles, that of humanity, the one not deformed or tainted by self-interest. As it seems to me, it stands alone.
4 March 2004
1. My thanks to Ingrid Honderich for comments on this paper, which demonstrate that we are not in complete agreement. The sample of 20 million lost lives has to do with the worst-off tenths of population in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Sierra Leone. See my After the Terror (Edinburgh University Press, Columbia University Press, 2002), Ch. 1.
2. Mifta (Palestine Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy) website, 15 March 2003.
3. Palestinian Red Crescent Society website, 30 June 2003.
4. B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories website, 31 May 2003.
5. Barbara Harff, 'Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases since 1945', International Studies Quarterly, 1988; 'No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955', American Political Science Review, 2003.
6. On war and terrorism, and on such other matters as the definition of terrorism, killing the innocent, and humiliation as a cause of terrorism, see the exemplary paper by Virginia Held, 'Terrorism as Small War'.
7. Prof. Ed Kent, personal communication.
8. Cf. Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against (Cambridge University Press, 1973). See also my Violence for Equality: Inquiries in Political Philosophy (Routledge, 1989), Ch. 1, or a revised edition under the title Terrorism for Humanity: Inquiries in Political Philosophy (Pluto, 2003).
9. Jonathan Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (Jonathan Cape, 1999), Chs. 10, 11, 12.
10. There is more on morality in After the Terror, Ch. 2.
11. Cf. 'After the Terror: A Book and Further Thoughts', The Journal of Ethics, 2003, which piece is reprinted in my Political Means and Social Ends (Edinburgh University Press, 2003).
12. Cf. Bernard Williams, Utilitarianism: For and Against and Moral Luck (Cambridge University Press, 1982), Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Fontana, 1984). As footnote 9 also indicates, I have lately been struck by the wider implications, political and social, of moral philosophy primarily concerned with private lives.
13. Cf. Tim Mulgan, The Demands of Consequentialism (Oxford University Press, 2001).
14. Violence is physical force that injures, damages, violates or destroys people or things. Terrorism is violence with a political and social end, whether or not intended to put people in general in fear, and necessarily raising a question of its moral justification because it is violence -- either such violence as is against the law within a society or else violence between states or societies, against what there is of international law and smaller-scale than war. For more on this definition see After the Terror, pp. 91-100, and 'After the Terror: A Book and Further Thoughts'.
15. R. A. Duff, Punishment, Communication and Community (Oxford University Press, 2000).
16. There were about 365,000 Arabs and about 7,000 Jews in 1876 in Palestine, then a a recognized Arab homeland with the same boundaries recognized by the Western powers mandate after World War 1. There were about 500,000 Arabs and 50,000 Jews in 1900 in Palestine. After World War 2, if both states called for by the United Nations had come into being, there would have been about 750,000 Arabs and 9,250 Jews in the Arab state, and 479,000 Arabs and 498,000 Jews in what would be the Jewish state. See After the Terror, Ch. 1. The given figures and others come from The World Guide 2003-4 (New Internationalist Publications, Instituto del Tercer Mundo, 2003). Cf. Justin McCarthy, The Population of Palestine: Population History and Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate (Columbia University Press, 1990), and Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Palestine Conflict (Verso, 2001).
17. A Guardian/ICM opinion poll published in The Guardian on 19 March 2003 was that 51% of Britons were against war and only 35% supported it.
18. For a consideration of this and related facts, see After the Terror , Ch. 1.
19. See also 'Hierarchic Democracy and the Necessity of Mass Civil Disobedience', Conway Memorial Lecture, 1994, republished in On Political Means and Social Ends, and also After the Terror, Ch. 4.
20. See my Conservatism (Hamish Hamilton, Westview, 1990; Penguin, 1991; Pluto, 2004).
21. See above para 'Any arguable...'
22. See above para 'It is no easy thing...'
23. For a consideration of several candidates, see various essays, several pertaining to liberalism, in On Political Means and Social Ends. The demand that an adequate morality be provided in argument is my principal reply to at least intemperate Israeli critics of such views as the one in this chapter. Prof. Jacob Joshua Ross of Tel Aviv-University, in his spoken paper on it at the conference, said it was like the Nazis' antisemitic instruction to Germans, derived from Bismarck, to 'think with your blood'.
24. 'Consequentialism, Moralities of Concern, and Selfishness', Philosophy, 1996, reprinted in On Political Means and Social Ends.
25. See also 'After the Terror: A Book and Further Thoughts', pp. 176-180, Journal of Ethics, 2003.
26. Dr Jeremy Stangroom, personal communication.
27. Cf. Violence For Equality: Inquiries in Political Philosophy (Routledge, 1989), revised as Terrorism for Humanity: Inquiries in Political Philosophy (Verso, 2003). It is true that my convictions have become both more confident and more resolute.
For a commentary on this article, by Felix O'Murchadha, go to Honderich on Terrorism.
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