Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Terrorism is a highly contested concept with dozens of definitions, none of which are definitive. There is to date no globally agreed, unambiguous definition or description of terrorism. Indeed, recently, prominent legal scholars have questioned whether we ought to spend time worrying about precise definitional issues at all, except for specific legal purposes. Notwithstanding the hardships involved in pursuing a canonical definition of such a politically contested concept as terrorism, if we are to fruitfully pursue the timely moral, political, and legal issues regarding the changing character of modern warfare, we must first reach some understanding of what terrorism is. The various conflicting academic definitions of terrorism fall roughly into two categories. One large group of contemporary definitions seeks to highlight a specific aspect of terrorism that is said to single it out as a particularly fiendish and condemnable practice. In contrast, a second group of definitions aims to blur ...