The unethical rhetoric of terror

Marcelo Dascal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Terrorism and counter-terrorism involve actions that, in addition to their unbearable price in bloodshed and suffering, purport to be communicative acts. Their performers and those who stand behind them intend to convey to the victims of their attacks and counter-attacks, or to those responsible for their security and well-being, certain “messages”, which their respective “addressees” are supposed to interpret and understand. Such an “understanding”, in turn, is supposed to be facilitated by a host of other communicative acts, in the more strict sense of the word: declarations, warnings, interviews, and sometimes also secret negotiations, both direct and mediated. A “conversation” involving a full range of violent and less violent communicative acts thus takes place between the opponents. The purpose of this paper is to analyze this peculiar kind of communicative interaction, highlighting its paradoxical nature. In so doing, it tackles an important dimension of the terrorism/counter-terrorism problem that has been generally overlooked. The paradoxes revealed by the communicative analysis, in turn, shed light on what should be expected from the analysis of the other dimensions - notably the ethical - of the problem, suggesting guidelines for the kind of intervention required for its solution.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9783110327496
ISBN (Print)3937202684, 9783110327267
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'The unethical rhetoric of terror'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this