Consequentialists propose to judge terrorism, like everything else, in light of its consequences.
Nonconsequentialists argue that its moral status is not simply a matter of what consequences, on balance, terrorism has, but is rather determined, whether solely or largely, by what it is.
Accordingly, the Jacobins applied the term to their own actions and policies quite unabashedly, without any negative connotations.
Yet the term “terrorism” and its cognates soon took on very strong negative connotations.
With regard to the problem of defining terrorism, the dominant approach seeks to acknowledge the core meaning “terrorism” has in common use. Many definitions highlight the experience of terror or fear as the proximate aim of that violence.
Neither violence nor terror is inflicted for its own sake, but rather for the sake of a further aim such as coercion, or some more specific political objective.
The history of terrorism is probably coextensive with the history of political violence.
The term “terrorism”, however, is relatively recent: it has been in use since late 18th century.
Critics of the excesses of the French Revolution had watched its reign with horror from the start.
Terrorism came to be associated with drastic abuse of power and related to the notion of tyranny as rule based on fear, a recurring theme in political philosophy.