Bandura, A. Mechanisms of moral disengagement. In W. Reich, Origins of Terrorism: Psycholigies, ideologies, theologies, states of mind, 1990.

There are psychological processes which can disengage morality from conduct. This can happen by:
* reconstruing conduct as serving moral purposes
* obscuring personal agency in bad activities
* disregarding consequences of actions
* blaming or dehumanizing victims

Moral justification
Situations like the military can turn killing into a moral act. It happens when non-violent acts appear to be ineffective and when there is a serious threat to a person's way of life. Justification can take many forms for social change.

Democratic societies find it difficult to develop counterterrorist measures. Terrorist acts are unpredictable, servere, disruptive, uncontrollable. We also sanitize our actions with the words we use. We can compare our immoral acts against larger atrocities.

Modern terrorists coerce the media into publicizing their grievances and try to gain sympathy and support.

Displacement of Responsibility
Terroists often seem themselves as patriots doing the state's bidding, thus absolving responsibility. People who take hostages put the responsibility in the adversaries hands. The responsibility can be diffused through the acts of many people. Group decision making can diffuse responsibility.

Disregard for Consequences
People minimize the consequences of acts they are responsible for. It's easier to hurt others when they are not visible. Superiors who make decisions are removed from those who follow orders.

Dehumanization
People find violence easier if they don't consider they victims as human beings.

The road to terrorism is gradual.

The mechanisms of moral disengagement involve cognitive and social machinations but not literal self-deception.