the ethics and legality of torture

Daniel Florien asks, “Is torture ever justifiable“? He begins in fantasy-land with a 24-esque “time-bomb” scenario. After several comments pointing out the absurdity of this approach, Daniel “updates” his post – linking to a “real scenario” (yes, the contradiction in terms is amusing) to further push the envelope.

The problems with this case are:

A) That the torture still didn’t help and

B) Even if the boy was saved, definitive proof that it was torture that saved the boy could never be had

Even for the exclusively pragmatic of us without a moral compass, the fact is that one can never prove an efficacy of torture. Even the “second undisputed fact” in the NYT article is that someone was “imagining” that torture might work. Wow. A compelling “fact” indeed.

While others state – “torture may possibly, somehow, whatever small the chance, not be wrong”, the wise in this thread note many times over that this is really a disguise for the argument in favor of vengeance. The vengeful have a standard retort grounded in an emotional fallacy:

If your child was kidnapped and you found yourself in a room with one who had information, would you torture him?

Perhaps. My anger and panic may drive me over the edge. And while a judge may have some degree of mercy on me should I act with such insanity, that should neither provide justice for my action nor sanction it in any moral sense. Arguing the justification of torture (whether moral or legal) on such grounds is simply a last-ditch emotional plea.

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4 Responses to “the ethics and legality of torture”

  1. Daniel Florien Says:

    Hey now, no need to be snarky. :)

  2. Peter Says:

    Whatever it takes.

  3. Ester Says:

    On what basis, if any, ought we to employ torture? And, On what basis, if any, ought we not to employ torture?

  4. Peter Says:

    Ester, I don’t see a basis for torture.

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