Rescuing Rationality from the Rationalists
For a Neo-Weberian Understanding of Rationality in Critical Terrorism Studies
A decade after its emergence, Critical Terrorism Studies (CTS) has remained unable to engage with one of the most prominent discourses that, on the one hand, justifies the dehumanisation of those accused of terrorism and, on the other, disciplines critical scholarship: the presentation of the terrorist as an irrational subject. Recognising the tensions that emerge from CTS’s critical understanding of “the world” and its simultaneous aim of making knowledge claims, this paper draws on the work of Max Weber in order to create a reflexive methodology able to analyse the rationality of terrorism. After showing the incompatibility between recent understandings of rationality in ‘mainstream’ terrorism studies with CTS, and the limits of ‘postmodern’ stances, this article proposes a neo-Weberian ‘via media’ capable of offering an analysis of the rationalities of terrorism, while remaining sensitive to the limitations of social theory.