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The Philosophy of Terrorism and Counterterrorism (PH379)

The spread of terrorism in its different forms is one of the most important and troubling developments of our age. Governments and intelligence agencies try to counter it while academics try to understand it. Many of the most interesting and fundamental questions about terrorism and counterterrorism are, in essence, philosophical. These questions will be the focus of this module. They include: how should 'terrorism' be defined? Is terrorism rational?

Can terrorism ever be justified? What explains the turn to political violence? How useful or legitimate is the concept of 'radicalisation' in understanding the turn to political violence? Standard attempts to understand terrorism and devise counterterrorism strategies rely on a range of epistemological and metaphysical assumptions which will be subjected to critical scrutiny in this module. Terrorism raises in a vivid and striking form, questions about the nature of prediction, explanation, rationality and morality. This module will be of particular interest to students who are not only interested in terrorism and counterterrorism, but also want to see how metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of science can have practical application.

Assessment Method: One 1,500 word essay (worth 15% of the module)
One 2,500 word essay (worth 85% of the module)

Ph 379 module image

Module Director:

Quassim Cassam