‘Pointless Heartbreak Unrepaid’: Consequentialism and the IRA's Armed Struggle

Timothy Shanahan

in The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635290
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652884 | DOI:
‘Pointless Heartbreak Unrepaid’: Consequentialism and the IRA's Armed Struggle

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Attempts to morally justify the IRA's armed struggle in terms of Just War Theory encounter a number of serious problems. However, it might be morally justified according to the standards of other moral theories. Some scholars have concluded that if terrorist campaigns such as the IRA's can be morally justified at all, it will be in terms of their overall beneficial consequences. It is therefore worthwhile to examine the morality of terrorism in general and of the IRA's armed struggle in particular, in relation to consequentialist moral considerations. This chapter aims to understand how consequentialist considerations could be used to morally justify at least some terrorist acts, and then to determine whether any of the IRA's acts of terrorism should be judged as among those so justified. The prospects for such a defence, it argues, are slim.

Keywords: Just War Theory; terrorist campaigns; moral theory; consequentialism; IRA's terrorism; moral justification

Chapter.  10498 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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