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Because violent revolution poses the most serious and difficult moral issues, it will be the focus of the remainder of the entry.
Those in support of the terrorist attacks would most likely also support the attackers’ cause.
For example, a group of “terrorists” may bomb the white house because they believe that President Bush is corrupt and is killing innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan without just cause.
However, if the supporters of these terrorist attacks would examine the consequences of the attack on the White House in more detail, they may change their stance. Is success measured by number of deaths or the fall of the house of Bush?
What if the Bush administration does fall, but more and greater corruption follows?
Unfortunately, the recent renaissance in just war theorizing focuses implicitly on interstate wars and thus has largely ignored the morality of revolution, at least as a topic worthy of systematic theorizing in its own right.
Recent work on the morality of asymmetrical warfare, on terrorism, and on humanitarian military intervention provides valuable resources for constructing a theory of the morality of revolution, but until the appearance of Christopher Finlay’s book, In other words, moral theorizing relevant to revolution has been rather fragmentary and adventitious, because it has mainly occurred in the pursuit of other topics rather than as part of an inquiry directed squarely at the phenomenon of revolution.The terrorists believe that if they bomb the White House and kill the President, the Bush administration will fall, and the wars in the Middle East will end.There may be some who agree with these terrorists, and believe that they are justified. Bush is responsible for the deaths of thousands, so his death is warranted.In the event that all political means of mediation have been exhausted, and lives of innocent people are threatened or the basic needs of life (food, shelter, sanitation) are deprived, then those individuals would be justified in fighting for self preservation through means of terrorism.This act of terrorism must be geared towards those responsible with the insurance that no innocent civilian lives are lost.But these systems were put in place to protect an individual from harm, and protect those individuals’ personal rights. Ross suggests that we have a moral obligation, a “prima facie” duty to “non-maleficence”.The knowledgeable death of innocents can never be justified. It is our ultimate responsibility to not harm others.How about the innocent lives at the White House that will be lost during the attack?Taking innocent lives is the very thing the terrorists so greatly oppose. How do we assess the value or cost of the fear and terror that this attack will instill on the entire nation? Do we know for certain that widespread panic and total chaos will not ensue in the aftermath of such a heinous act?And Richard Wasserstrom also affirms that “there are no circumstances under which the intentional killing of innocent persons, even in time of war, can be justified. There always seems to be grey areas, or caveats which are exceptions to every rule.It is always immoral to do so.”Many individuals would claim “terrorism can never be justified”. We can rephrase the absolute statement to “terrorism usually cannot be justified, but in some rare instances, is justifiable”.