In “Terrorism and Morality,” Haig Khatchadourian argues that terrorism is always wrong. Within this argument, Khatchadourian says that all forms of terrorism are wrong because the outcome deprives those terrorized of their basic humanity. To this end, Khatchadourian says that even forms of terrorism that are designed to bring about a moral good are wrong because of the methods used to achieve that good. Before Khatchadourian spells out why terrorism is wrong, he defines what terrorism is, what causes terrorism, and what people believe terrorism to mean. With a working definition in place, Khatchadourian examines terrorism’s role in a just war and shows that terrorism is never just, even during war. With the assertion that terrorism, even during wartime is unjust, Khatchadourian analyzes the variations of innocence and non-innocence surrounding the victims of a terrorist attack. The analysis of innocence and non-innocence is accomplished through review of the principal of discrimination and the principal of proportion and how each relates to terrorism. From these philosophical and ethical standpoints, Khatchadourian finds that terrorism is unjust and wrong because of the way it groups and punishes the innocent with the guilty, not allowing the victim to properly respond to the charges against them. Finally, Khatchadourian looks at how terrorism is always wrong because of the way it denies a person their basic human rights. In examination of person’s human rights, Khatchadourian finds that terrorism specifically “violates its targets’ right to be treated as moral persons,” as it inflicts pain, suffering and death to those who are not deserving (298).
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Beyond Khatchadourian’s discussion on the attack on the moral person, I was moved by his discussion on the innocent and non-innocent. In light of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States, I think of all the innocents that were harmed: secretaries working in the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, firefighters who rushed into burning buildings to save those who could not save themselves, and people in mail rooms who unsuspectingly perform a duty that could cost them their lives, naming only a few. These innocents, who could in no way be connected to U.S policy or government, highlight the demoralizing and destructive effect that terrorism carries. The plight of the innocent in terrorist attacks highlights the injustice behind terrorist attacks.
Khatchadourian, Haig. “Terrorism and Morality.” Applied Philosophy. Ed. 1991