Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Terrorism and the Philosophy of History

Terrorism and the Philosophy of History - Now for a more philosophical look at modern history...

This is Andrew Fiala's article about liberal responses to terrorism in terms of the philosophy of history. It was originally published in the April 2002 issue of Essays in Philosophy.

From the site:

Those who utilize terror techniques in attacks against liberal states are not constrained by liberal ideas about justice in war.1 Indeed, many terrorists are intent on attacking liberalism itself because they view it as a rival "comprehensive doctrine."2 One wonders then, whether liberalism should be constrained by its own principles in responding to such attacks. I will discuss this issue in relation to John Rawls’ ideas of justice in war, as found in his recent The Law of Peoples. I will indicate that, although Rawls’ attempts to articulate an idea of international law that is "political" in his sense (that is not tied to any particular comprehensive doctrine and yet reasonable for adherents of a plurality of such comprehensive doctrines), his idea is tied to a specific philosophy of history that is potentially incompatible with other philosophies of history. This can be seen in his discussion of the "supreme emergency exemption," which is an idea about the historical necessity of violating liberal principles of justice in war in order to defend liberal values from some overwhelming threat. This is problematic for political liberalism because an acknowledgement of supreme emergencies in history is only possible either from within a more substantive form of liberalism or from the perspective of political realism. In either case, invocation of a supreme emergency might then justify those who view liberalism as a rival comprehensive doctrine, which must be destroyed by any means necessary. I will suggest that the very idea of a supreme emergency exemption to rules of justice in war, even in the face of terrorism, runs counter to the spirit of the more substantive form of liberalism found in Kant. Kantian liberalism has no need for a supreme emergency exemption or, rather, it avoids this realist expedient by postulating an optimistic philosophy of history. Rawls’ political liberalism, however, is, as Rawls admits, a hybrid that is both realistic and utopian. The realist component of political liberalism thus might allow a Rawlsian to support strong action against terrorists. However, the realist exemption to the principles of justice can only be invoked from within a philosophical interpretation of progress in history. Such a philosophy of history is thus a metaphysical supplement to the ideals of political liberalism, one that threatens to disrupt the possibility of overlapping consensus. A Kantian, for example, who would accept the basic principles of the Law of Peoples, would reject the supreme emergency exemption. After discussing this problem, I will conclude by arguing that currently terrorism does not constitute a supreme emergency.


Dymphna said...

For me, this was the money quote:

Terrorists are not merely pathological. They are political agents who utilize what I want to call a calculus of terror. This is the negative caricature of a utilitarian or hedonic calculus. The calculus of terror is designed to bring about certain ends. It is a rational decision procedure based upon the insight that terror disrupts social structures

Thanks for the link.

sadashivan said...

Fire (spark) is reaction, produced by friction of two substances in negative and positive (opposite) directions. Fire seeks help of substance for its extension. It is the substance that helps fire to become furious. So intensity of fire depends on power of substances. Revolution (spark) is creation of reaction from Governments and the living citizens. Intensity of revolution depends on the strength of despressed people. Revolution may be classified in two categories (1) Peaceful as organized by Anna Hazare and Ram Dev in India during August 2011 or Gandhi or Nelson. Though requires lot of sacrifice can sympathetic attention of entire world. This revolution is to melt heart of opposite side that caused pain to citizens. Most effective method that pulls mob to address the strength to opposite side (2) violent revolution organized by some sects to hurt opposite side to give pain, after sometimes people too become opposite to revolution. The opposite side reacts strongly to foil by using stronger force gains momentum from own and world population. This type of revolution mainly results due to anger, as recently we experienced in many parts of Europe. Where young boiled blood experience mistreated due to unemployment, escalated living cost, poverty, racial discrimination, and etc.

Each Government must understand the responsibility towards own population. Old age systems have changed; Present violence is indication of despondency. Now they want elected members to be in touch with them understand their pain and issues. World over crisis are worsening and may explode any time. World young is stressed and getting violent as experienced in UK and Spain or other parts. Change old age decayed constitutions to match present population. Always keep in touch with who voted, seek their views so can solve, this way feel they are involved would minimize despondency among its population.