The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror

How can democracies defend themselves against the threat presented to them by terrorist attacks, while still remaining recognisably liberal? Terrorism is hard for democracies to fight – defeating it, or even resisting it, requires violence, secrecy, abrogation of rights. But democracies are committed to the removal or at least the reduction of these things in civil life, so the attempt to defend themselves against terrorism seems to involve some loss, maybe a catastrophic loss, of the very features which make democracies worth defending. Democratic self-defence seems in this case to be self-defeating: how, if at all, can this apparent paradox be understood and overcome?

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