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Terrorism - War on Terror, Pogge.docx

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Philosophy 2083F/G
Frank Cameron

MAKING WAR ON TERRORIST – Thomas Pogge  The countries of the developed west are fighting a war on terror  That public attention to terrorism serves important domestic constituencies  Public attention to terrorism also serves the interests of politicians, especially incumbents  Many western government policies have been marketed as anti-terror measures  Severe violations of basic human rights as necessary responses to terrorist threats  Political power depends on three components: military might, economic might and international moral standing  Governments of countries whose military strength is relatively larger than their economic and moral strengths will tend to benefit from heightened insecurity and tension by enjoying greater freedom of action due to greater acquiescence on the part of their own citizens and other countries  I think an important part of the explanation is our moral judgment that these terrorist attacks are exceptionally heinous  Moral theorizing, we are often faced with moral questions or decisions that are difficult to resolve  Rawls calls reflective equilibrium our most firmly held convictions, are the standard by which we judge difficult questions  That what makes these attacks presumptively wrong is that, foreseen by the agent, they harm and even kill innocent people  By calling a person innocent, I mean that this person poses no threat and has done nothing that would justify attacking her with lethal force  We need not claim that it is always wrong to do what one foresees will harm or kill innocent people  Justifications of the second type assert that the harm done to innocent people is outweighed, by a greater good of some other kind  When the greater good an agent intends to achieve with her action will not be a good for the innocent persons this action will harm, then that good can justify the action only if it greatly outweighs the harm this action foreseeably inflicts  Any such justification must discharge four burdens of proof: it must show that the alleged good really is a good; it must show that the terrorist attacks in question contribute to this good, at least probabilistically; it must show that the value of this contribution greatly outweighs the foreseen harms to innocent people; and , finally, any such justification must also show that all these harms were really necessary for the intended contribution to the greater good  In any case, the terrorists at minimum displayed great disregard for what is often euphemistically called collateral damage  Most of the harm the terrorists inflicted on innocent people was not necessary for promoting the alleged good they sought and quite possibly even counterproductive  Moral justifications of the terrorists attacks fail, then, because the fourth burden of proof cannot be discharged  When one’s enemy in war employs immoral methods, then it is morally permissible to employ the same methods in return  Sucker exemption, the basic idea is that an agent in a competitive context is not required to observe constraints that other, competing agents fail to observe  The sucker exemption is distinctly implausible  You are not morally permitted to violate your agreements with one person because some other person has violated his agreements with you  A person can forfeit ordinary moral protections against being harmed only through something she herself has done, not through the actions of another  Any plausible purpose of the attacks could have been achieved with much less harm to innocent civilians  Some serious thought is certainly required for a genuinely religious person conscientiously to reach the conclusion that these attacks accord with God’s will  In accordance with one beli
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