On Ways Forward

  • Damian Cox
  • Michael Levine
  • Saul Newman


The previous chapter explored some of the ethical and political tensions central to liberal democracy — tensions highlighted in Ignatieff’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reconcile liberal democratic principles and institutions with various forms of state violence and coercion in response to the threat of terrorism. Unlike Ignatieff, we have argued that enhanced security measures and military responses to terrorism, right up to extra-judicial detention, targeted assassination and preventive wars — all of which Ignatieff allows under his ethics of the ‘lesser evil’ — cannot be enacted without doing major damage to the very liberal democratic principles in defence of which these measures are supposedly taken. Neither the slippery logic of the ‘lesser evil’, nor blind faith in judicial scrutiny and adversarial review, gets around this problem. We are left in a quandary: what would be an ethically and politically legitimate response to terrorism?


Foreign Policy Civil Liberty Liberal Democracy Hate Speech Democratic Politics 
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Copyright information

© Damian Cox, Michael Levine and Saul Newman 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Damian Cox
    • 1
  • Michael Levine
    • 2
  • Saul Newman
    • 3
  1. 1.Bond UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.University of Western AustraliaAustralia
  3. 3.Goldsmiths — University of LondonUK

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