Violating the Inviolable: Human Rights 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:
Violating the Inviolable: Human Rights and the IRA's Armed Struggle

Show Summary Details


According to some philosophers, acts of terrorism are necessarily morally wrong because they always violate fundamental human rights. Virginia Held examined situations in which serious rights violations are already occurring and considered the moral justifiability of the limited use of terrorism in such situations in pursuit of a more just society. This chapter contends that Held is correct that a rights-based justification of some acts of terrorism is possible. It articulates and defends the additional conditions that must be satisfied for acts of terrorism to be morally justified from a non-consequentialist rights-based moral perspective, and then considers the extent to which the IRA's armed struggle satisfies these conditions. The chapter argues that the IRA's campaign failed to consistently satisfy a number of these conditions. The IRA's armed struggle was not, therefore, morally justified from a perspective that takes human rights seriously.

Keywords: Virginia Held; terrorism; IRA's campaign; human rights; morally wrong

Chapter.  9771 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.