chapter  2
15 Pages

Rediscovering the individual in the ‘war on terror’: A virtue and liberal approach


The debate about ethics and the war on terror has been conducted primarily at the macro-level, rather than at the individual level. One thinks particularly of issues such as oppositional discourses of security and human rights; international relations; the breaches of international law and ethical norms; and the return to torture. This macro-emphasis is clearly shown in the articles, books and collections on the topic; something which is also largely true of this volume. The impetus behind this chapter is to discover what has happened to the individual in this debate about the ‘war on terror’. Where are the discussions of ethical agency and responsibility? To answer these questions this chapter first considers the disappearance of the individual in this debate. It then presents two possible ways of redressing this gap and connecting the individual with the wider ethical debate: a virtue and a liberal account. Both these accounts provide a means of connecting individual and collective agency and allot at least some ethical responsibility to the individual.1