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What is terrorism?

 
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Nov, 2009 08:02 pm
@Dewey phil,
Dewey;106440 wrote:
Thanks, kennethamy. Here's my responses to your questions and comments.

Kennethamy:"I really don't know what it means to say that whatever we know is relative and not absolute, so I'll just pass on that."

Dewey: Perhaps, since this is a philosophy forum, you would like to have an idea as to what philosophical relativity is. John Mill explains it this way:

"Our whole knowledge of mind and of matter is relative, conditioned-relatively conditioned. Of things absolutely or in themselves, be they external, be they internal, we know nothing, or know them only as incognisable; and become aware of their incomprehensible existence, only as this is indirectly and accidentally revealed to us, through certain qualities related to our faculties of knowledge, and which qualities, again, we cannot think as unconditioned, irrelative, existent in and of themselves. "


kennethamy: "The pathetic excuse that the poor terrorist has to resort to terror because he is so-well, poor, does not move me. It sounds too much like the rapist who excuses his rape of a child because he cannot get any woman to have sex with him."

Dewey: I don't see much equation in that comparison. The one seeks the essential to life - food and shelter. The other does not. And, incidentally, I looked for but could not find factual evidence to support your causation for rape.


Kennethamy: "It is really not an excuse to do something evil because you cannot accomplish what you want in any other way. It is surprising, even shocking, that people would give this kind of thing a serious hearing."

Dewey: To relieve the surprise and shock, I suggest you give more consideration to that term "evil". Ask yourself if you are applying it objectively. Spinoza, one of the myriad of philosophers in agreement in this regard, reminds us that "evil" indicates nothing positive in things considered in themselves. As Hamlet puts it: "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so." The answer here might be to think less subjectively and more objectively.


Kennethamy: "I don't know what good means we could give the terrorist to accomplish his goal of murdering people who do not conform to his beliefs. Do you?"

Dewey: No, I don't. Anyhow it's irrelevant. (I abslutely refuse to believe you ask this question to find a good means of murdering all the terrorists.)


I apologise if I have underestimated your understanding of the matters discussed above. But a little reminding can't hurt.



I don't see much equation in that comparison. The one seeks the essential to life - food and shelter. The other does not. And, incidentally, I looked for but could not find factual evidence to support your causation for rape.

I don't see any difference. The point is that the excuse that because the terrorist cannot get good enough weapons to fight, he must kill innocents, seems to me a parody of an excuse. Let him reconsider his goals. Rational people often do that. If the means they have to take to achieve a goal is unacceptable, then the goals are adjusted. Otherwise the person is willing to use any means to achieve his end. Morality is, in part, putting limits on what you do to achieve what you want. A person who recognizes no limits on what he will do, is an immoral person. Naturally, I am speaking inside the framework of morality. If such a framework is discarded, then what I say means nothing. Just as when I say that 2+2=4, I am speaking within the framework of arithmetic. If that framework is discarded, then that means nothing.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 03:32 am
@kennethamy,
How about this?

The degree to which a person is a terrorist is directly proportional to the percentage of the global population that this person considers expendable as collateral damage.

I'm not sure if I like that definition myself but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.

I'm attempting to provide some objective measure so we can get away from the terrorist/freedom-fighter relativity thing.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 07:01 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;110077 wrote:
How about this?

The degree to which a person is a terrorist is directly proportional to the percentage of the global population that this person considers expendable as collateral damage.

I'm not sure if I like that definition myself but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.

I'm attempting to provide some objective measure so we can get away from the terrorist/freedom-fighter relativity thing.


But there is no terrorist-freedom fighter "relativity thing" to get away from, since those notions are not on the same plain. Terrorism is a means, and freedom is an end. So someone can be both a terrorist and a freedom fighter. And many are. It is also important to note that the issue of collateral damage is not nearly so important as the fact that there is no collateral damage in the case of terrorism. The damage they do is not collateral. It is intentional. So, your view is mistaken on two counts.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 10:21 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110110 wrote:
But there is no terrorist-freedom fighter "relativity thing" to get away from, since those notions are not on the same plain. Terrorism is a means, and freedom is an end. So someone can be both a terrorist and a freedom fighter. And many are. It is also important to note that the issue of collateral damage is not nearly so important as the fact that there is no collateral damage in the case of terrorism. The damage they do is not collateral. It is intentional. So, your view is mistaken on two counts.


That's a good point. I did not actually mean "collateral damage". I used the wrong words. Let me try again.

The degree to which a person is a terrorist is directly proportional to the percentage of the global population that this person considers expendable as a means to his/her end.

Is that any better?

And riddle me this kennethamy what if freedom-fighting is the means and terrorism is the end? Zing! Oh yes score is all tied up eleven to elephant.
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 10:38 am
@kennethamy,
Are there degrees of being a terrorist? And is there a difference between a terrorist who bombs a house with a family of five, one who explodes a bomb on a large airplane, or one who places a nuclear suitcase bomb in the middle of NYC?

Or: isn't terrorism determined by WHO it is willing to sacrifice for some predetermined end, rather than how many human beings? It may be that terrorism fails to make any distinctions between human beings, and considers any a legitimate target for destruction by making them solely objects defined as expendable Others?
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 10:47 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;110172 wrote:
That's a good point. I did not actually mean "collateral damage". I used the wrong words. Let me try again.

The degree to which a person is a terrorist is directly proportional to the percentage of the global population that this person considers expendable as a means to his/her end.

Is that any better?

And riddle me this kennethamy what if freedom-fighting is the means and terrorism is the end? Zing! Oh yes score is all tied up eleven to elephant.


1. I don't think so. Such a person is an extremist. He need not be a terrorist if it is not his intention to kill those people.
2. I don't know what sort of case you would have in mind where FF is the means, and terrorism is the end. I can't think of such a case. Can you?
0 Replies
 
Dewey phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 02:59 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;110077 wrote:
How about this?

The degree to which a person is a terrorist is directly proportional to the percentage of the global population that this person considers expendable as collateral damage.

I'm not sure if I like that definition myself but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.

I'm attempting to provide some objective measure so we can get away from the terrorist/freedom-fighter relativity thing.



Hi Deckard,

Your idea is interesting and a good try, but from my perspective it doesn't work.

You referred to "relativity". There is a relativity thing here, I think.

The ends that each of us has do not fit nicely into some overall assembly of constant, uniform purposefulness. Our ends often conflict with one another. We seek this end today and another end tomorrow. It all depends on the stimuli that happen to be working on us at the time. Right now, writing this post I'm targeted toward one of my noble humanitarian ends. Tomorrow, I will probably revert to one of my many ignoble self-serving pursuits - or maybe some stimulus will come along and point me in a better direction. It's all relative.

The average terrorist is no different. He seeks to kill today but is susceptible to stimuli pointing him in a better direction tomorrow. The stimuli we have been giving him, the Bush-type assurances that, yes, he is very evil, haven't worked. It's time for us to provide the right stimuli.
Zetetic11235
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 06:23 pm
@Dewey phil,
Dewey;105956 wrote:

we can face up to the fact that everything we know is relative and nothing is absolute.

That sentence is self refuting...consider the statement "It is a fact that nothing is absolute" which carries, in this context, the same meaning as: "It is a fact that nothing is a fact". If it is true, then it is false, because if it is true, then it is a fact, so the sentence is necessarily false.

I think this is what kennethamy was commenting on (or not, who knows).
Dewey;110305 wrote:
Hi Deckard,

Your idea is interesting and a good try, but from my perspective it doesn't work.

You referred to "relativity". There is a relativity thing here, I think.

The ends that each of us has do not fit nicely into some overall assembly of constant, uniform purposefulness. Our ends often conflict with one another. We seek this end today and another end tomorrow. It all depends on the stimuli that happen to be working on us at the time. Right now, writing this post I'm targeted toward one of my noble humanitarian ends. Tomorrow, I will probably revert to one of my many ignoble self-serving pursuits - or maybe some stimulus will come along and point me in a better direction. It's all relative.

The average terrorist is no different. He seeks to kill today but is susceptible to stimuli pointing him in a better direction tomorrow. The stimuli we have been giving him, the Bush-type assurances that, yes, he is very evil, haven't worked. It's time for us to provide the right stimuli.


I would argue that it is a matter of pragmatism. Do you claim that it is squalor that drives the terrorist to kill himself for a cause? You might say that the squalor makes him more susceptible to propaganda that stems from those at the top. How would you propose we eliminate the message? I have my qualms about how realistic the "hearts and minds" campaign is. To quash terrorism we have to quash the ideology, if we cannot quash the ideology we have to quash those who pose a deadly threat. So far I have not seen a realistic proposal for quashing the ideology, and it seems like it is a problem that will only be washed away by time. Hence, we quash the immediate threat.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 06:47 pm
@Zetetic11235,
Zetetic11235;110350 wrote:


I would argue that it is a matter of pragmatism. Do you claim that it is squalor that drives the terrorist to kill himself for a cause? You might say that the squalor makes him more susceptible to propaganda that stems from those at the top. How would you propose we eliminate the message? I have my qualms about how realistic the "hearts and minds" campaign is. To quash terrorism we have to quash the ideology, if we cannot quash the ideology we have to quash those who pose a deadly threat. So far I have not seen a realistic proposal for quashing the ideology, and it seems like it is a problem that will only be washed away by time. Hence, we quash the immediate threat.


I don't see this has anything to do with the OP. The question is, what is terrorism.
0 Replies
 
Dewey phil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Dec, 2009 07:53 pm
@Zetetic11235,
Zetetic11235;110350 wrote:
That sentence is self refuting...consider the statement "It is a fact that nothing is absolute" which carries, in this context, the same meaning as: "It is a fact that nothing is a fact". If it is true, then it is false, because if it is true, then it is a fact, so the sentence is necessarily false.

I think this is what kennethamy was commenting on (or not, who knows).


Hi, Zetetic11235:

I was referring to these terms , defined by Wikipedia thusly:

"Moral absolutism is the belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, devoid of the context of the act. "Absolutism" is often philosophically contrasted with moral relevatism, which is a belief that moral truths are relative to social, cultural, historical or personal references, and to situational ethics, which holds that the morality of an act depends on the context of the act."

Nevertheless, thanks.
0 Replies
 
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2009 05:09 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;110077 wrote:
How about this?

The degree to which a person is a terrorist is directly proportional to the percentage of the global population that this person considers expendable as collateral damage.

I'm not sure if I like that definition myself but I'm going to throw it out there anyway.

I'm attempting to provide some objective measure so we can get away from the terrorist/freedom-fighter relativity thing.


Well, by that logic, which isn't a bad one, the U.S. government is the greatest terrorist the world has ever known. How many millions of Iraqis, Guatemalans, Peruvians, Hondurans, Africans, Afghanis, etc. have been killed incidentally either by the American military or by native forces funded by the U.S. government, whose deaths were labelled acceptable collateral damage in the pursuit of strategic minerals or geopolitical advantage? Hitler, Stalin or Mao might come to mind as even greater murderers, and they were. However, their objective in killing those people was to kill those people; therefore, those deaths don't count as collateral damage, they were primary to the mission.

I mean comon, the term 'collateral damage' is an invention of the CIA and U.S. defense community. That should say something.
0 Replies
 
 

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