Extremist Violence Has Its Roots in Morality, Not Ideology

Clark McCauley: Political grievances are usually simpler than ideology: “They’re doing it to us and we’re not going to let them get away with it.” One might say that this counts as ideology — that motives of outrage and revenge count as ideology. In this case, ideology looks remarkably like the “moral sentiments” of empathy, indignation, and shame that are presumed to confer fitness advantages in human social interactions. Reference to ideology is consistent with the hegemony of rational choice theories in social science, but case materials show that radicalization to terrorism occurs in a welter of emotions.

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