DP4736 | Public Safety and the Moral Dilemma in the Defense Against Terror

Publication Date

23/11/2004

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Abstract

The economic theory of defense has traditionally described public safety as achieved through investments that deter adversaries. Deterrence is however ineffective, and preemptive defense is required, when a population of intended victims confronts supreme-value suicide terror. A moral dilemma then arises, since preemption may impose collective punishment, while, in the absence of preemption, the population of intended victims is exposed to acts of terror. We consider how a population of intended terror victims confronts the moral dilemma, and compare the threatened population?s response with the public-safety recommendations of external judges who are not personally affected by the threat of terror.