The ERC Advanced Grant on Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility (euro 2.5 million) was awarded to applied philosopher, Professor Seumas Miller, to conduct this multi-disciplinary practitioner informed research over a 5 year period.

This proposed research project has as its main objective to provide an answer or set of answers to the following pressing, yet highly complex and problematic, normative question:

 What ought a morally permissible and efficacious (i) structure of counter-terrorist institutional arrangements, and (ii) counter-terrorist tactics, for a contemporary liberal democracy collaborating with other liberal democracies inter alia facing the common problem of international terrorism consist of?

 To realise this main objective requires answering a number of constitutive subsidiary questions addressed in a systematic manner. The most important of the ones to be addressed here are:

  • What is the nature and causes of international terrorism and how is it to be morally and conceptually demarcated from, for example, wars of liberation and more traditional forms of terrorism?
  • What is the analysis of the notion of collective moral responsibility applicable to institutional actors?
  • What forcible counter-terrorist tactics, e.g. preventative detention, targeted killing, are morally permissible and under what circumstances?
  • How are these tactics to be integrated with a broad-based counter-terrorism strategy which rely on the citizenry and includes such non-forcible measures as anti-radicalisation measures?
  • How morally ought the key security agencies – police, military and intelligence – be redesigned to combat international terrorism in the diverse contexts of well-ordered jurisdictions (London or Madrid), disorderly  jurisdictions (e.g. FATA) and theatres of  war (Syria)? How, for example, is the military role to be demarcated from the police role in counter-terrorist operations in disorderly jurisdictions? Is there a morally problematic blurring of the roles of different security institutions, e.g. militarisation of police? Should an intelligence agency such as the CIA be in charge of operations involving the use of lethal force? What powers of  security agencies constitute morally impermissible institutional overreach in a liberal democracy?
  • What accountability mechanisms need to be designed in relation to the use of (otherwise morally acceptable) counter-terrorist tactics, e.g. judicial oversight of drone strikes?

The project comprises a number of stages and associated work-packages conducted over a five year period, each stage and work-package aligning sequentially with the need to address these key constitutive questions (each of which is itself complex) in logical order. Realizing the main objective also involves the utilisation of a multi-disciplinary methodology which integrates philosophical theorising/analysis, empirical description/interpretation and legal input.