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Is Torture Ever Acceptable

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❶Thirty-five percent say torture is acceptable in some such cases.

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On the one hand, the subject is likely to feel that the pain is her own fault because she is obeying the order not to move. But if, on the other hand, she moves and the other distressing thing is done to her, she is also likely to feel that that distress is her own fault because she disobeyed the order not to move. Obviously she cannot win but is in fact likely nevertheless to feel that she is responsible for whichever bad outcome she suffers, although of course the torturers are responsible for having created the inescapable Catch Why is standing limited to 4 hours?

Presumably Rumsfeld shifts position at will when he chooses to stand. If discussion of torture is to have any semblance of a connection with torture as actually practised, it is essential to remember at least that torture is not some rare and exceptional onetime ad hoc emergency measure, but a carefully researched and tested practice adopted as a matter of policy for a general category of suspects whose psychological equilibrium is if possible, shattered Constitution Project , Singh You are the resistance.

Whether, once broken, you will ever mend is an open question. When one reflects on what torture typically consists of specially trained government agents 11,1cling a person captive and assaulting the structure of his personality by the most effective means known to modern psychology — one is strongly inclined to think that torture ought indeed to be absolutely prohibited, precisely as it has been by international law Waldron b: Different variants deal with the various implausibilities here in alternative ways with various degrees of success, and toying with different versions seems to provide endless fascination for analytic philosophers who think hypothetical examples can teach us more than we can learn from studying what actually happens and what is likely to happen Shue David Luban analyses the general function of the reasoning focused on ticking bombs, whatever the details of the hypotheticals.

Someone who begins by believing that torture ought to be subject to the kind of absolute prohibition found in international law is made to confront what is presented as an undoubted case of torture that is, all things considered, justified.

Yes, she is told, torturing anyone is not just wrong but terribly wrong; however, the preventable catastrophe would be an even more terrible wrong, and so — surely! The defender of the absolute prohibition may grant the exception and thus qualify the absolutism of her original position. All that one really needs to see, on the contrary, is that the ticking-bomb scenario is not an example of torture as it is practised on planet Earth.

First, it might be that one can imagine a possible world in which, although torture is almost never used, it somehow can virtually instantly be employed successfully to deal exclusively with rare emergencies.

The scenario is at best irrelevant in focusing on one-off or rare instances rather than on routine bureaucratic policies and general directives.

It is the debate between the certainty of anguish and the mere possibility of learning something vital and saving lives. The scenario is positively misleading in transferring intuitions about certain success to cases of possible success. So, as Bob Brecher has put it in one of the most thorough and persuasive critiques of the use of ticking-bomb scenarios:. The important point is that the use of torture is not an area in which human motives are trustworthy. But for those eager to believe in short cuts as a substitute for patient investigative work, the scenario may now seem to provide a rationale for practices that are much more different from it than similar to it.

That these ticking-bomb scenarios have harmful effects is not speculation. One repeatedly finds politicians, journalists, and talk-show participants moving from premises based on the ticking-bomb scenario to conclusions about, for example, treatment of prisoners at the U. One cannot entirely prevent others from misinterpreting what one writes, but in an area like torture one should take every possible measure to discourage it.

Fora empirical reasons — psychological, political, sociological and bureaucratic — the carefiilly limited use of torture is impossible: Now, one might well judge that if this is the direction in which consequentialism is taking us, it i.

We both still think that this is an important point. It has been the guiding principle here so far and is the reason I have emphasized that real-world torture is done by entrenched secret professional bureaucracies with a far lower threshold for using it than any almost certain, imminent catastrophe. Luban formulates this first reading of my methodological principle as:. They illicitly change the subject from important and authentic questions about the limits of legitimate interrogation in non-TBS [ticking-bomb scenario] cases to intuition-mongering about a tendentious hypothetical.

Ignoring the second reading here, I shall briefly consider the other two closely related readings, which probe considerably deeper than I had done at the time and which draw on subsequent insights by Bernard Williams. The next reading to which we turn says:. Ordinary practices of moral rationality fail in cases where all courses of action are monstrous. The artificial cases ethicists cook up to control for monstrosity by isolating the right- and wrong-making characteristics of action are misleading.

That is precisely because they cover over the monstrousness with a veneer of rationality. How could you not? Luban offers an explanation of why moral rationality might be limited in the way Williams suggested:. Moral systems … arise by generalizing and abstracting from prototypical cases in which they make intuitive sense and yield intuitively satisfying answers … But completeness claims are illusory This should not surprise us: This bizarre case may well fall completely outside the range of cases in which the moral theory is a reliable guide.

Insightful analysts have suggested that the other assault to which torture is most similar is rape Sussman A column in the New York Times had said:. A clear sign of progress in Western society is that one does not need to argue against rape: If someone were to advocate the legitimacy of rape, he would appear so ridiculous as to disqualify himself from any further consideration. So, Luban proposes, a final reading of my principle is: If our moral theories generalize from cases where they can be brought into equilibrium with our intuitions, then when they confront a case with radically different features from the original cases and suggest a response that seems intuitively wrong, we may do better to trust our intuition instead of the response that follows from the theory.

Perhaps we could construct a better theory that adequately accounts for the horror that torture instinctively arouses. We have good intuitive grounds in our revulsion and disgust to believe that a moral theory that suggests one rape to prevent ten, or one torture to prevent ten, has blundered beyond its competence.

Space here does not permit discussing the features of the contemporary American way of torture, which are the empirical basis for the arguments, in any detail.

We emphasized the mercilessness of all torture:. The victim can attempt to end the torture by trying to give the torturer what the victim thinks the torturer wants, but the torturer decides entirely for himself what he wants at any given time and whether he believes he has it all.

The victim may well guess wrong about what the torturer wants, and often the victim does not have what the torturer wants in any case, especially of course if the victim is not who the torturer thinks he is or has not done what the torturer suspects he has done. All power remains with the torturer, who may move the goal posts as often and as far as he wishes.

The victim is utterly at his mercy. Unlike even war, torture has no natural end. It ends when the torturer chooses to end it. Psychological torture in accord with the CIA paradigm, in particular, undermines the structure of the personality — it literally breaks apart the self, unhinging its parts from each other. The victim is reduced to a quivering bundle of fears, driven to try to please, that is, to try to fulfil the wishes of others, with few wishes of her own, except release from the awful psychological stresses that are being systematically and relentlessly imposed by all-powerful others.

This goes far beyond what slavery involved and gives new meaning to being at the mercy of someone else. Writing decades later about the psychological effects of his crude old-fashioned physical torture by the SS, much less devilishly fine-tuned than the state-of-the-art CIA paradigm, Jean Amery wrote:. It blocks the view into a world in which the principle of hope rules.

Torture often unleashes a traumatic neurosis with symptoms of recurrent dreams of the traumatic event, anxiety, fear, crying, panic and feelings of helplessness. The best very brief characterization of the American way of torture is law professor Seth: The new twist in contemporary justifications for the use of torture is that they are forward-looking: Jeremy Waldron has presented an entirely independent case for the absolute prohibition against torture already found in international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 4 and 7 and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment, both of which apply to absolutely everyone, and the Geneva Conventions, which apply to the persons they protect, including prisoners of war.

Law is not brutal in its operation. Law is not savage. Law does not rule through abject fear and terror, or by breaking the will of those whom it confronts. If law is forceful or coercive, it gets its way by nonbrutal methods which respect rather than mutilate the dignity and agency of those who are its subjects.

The legal prohibition against torture, besides its importance in its own right, serves as an archetype of the policy that legal force is not brutal or savage.

The prohibition against torture has kind of iconic significance as a symbolic anchor of the intransgressible requirement that law respect dignity by avoiding brutality. Legal archetypes do foreground work as rules or precedents, but in doing that work they sum up the spirit of a whole body of law that goes beyond what they might be thought to require on their own terms. The idea of an archetype, then, is the idea of a rule or positive law provision that operates not just on its own account …but….

The maintenance of the prohibition on torture may in fact have been the vital protection of a crucial anchor for the general rule of law, which is now shakier in America than it was in McKeown , R. The arguments made by Waldron and Luban in are strongly complementary. Luban, as we saw earlier, focused in on the evil of state tyranny; Waldron focused at the same time on the evil of state brutality.

A government that uses torture is both tyrannical and brutal: An absolute prohibition on torture is a wall against brutal state tyranny, a wall that, as Waldron emphasizes with the idea of a legal archetype, is also part of the larger structure of the rule of law.

The rule of law is protection against tyranny and brutality. David Rodin has suggested that the absolute moral prohibition on torture may play an archetypical role within our system of moral norms somewhat analogous to the archetypical role of the absolute legal prohibition Rodin forthcoming. If, Rodin observes, one thinks of the Quinean image of a web of belief such that beliefs near the centre of the web can be changed only if substantial portions of surrounding beliefs are also changed, the absolute prohibition on torture serves as one of those key central beliefs.

My version of this would be that, as Waldron says of the legal case, the absolute moral prohibition is vital in its own right but is also a symbol of the fundamental point that morality demands limits. A person who will stop at nothing is a person without morality.

That no one may ever torture is both an instantiation of a firm moral limit and a radiant emblem of intransgressible moral limitation.

A basic right in my sense directly protects one vital interest but in doing so it also blocks a standard threat to other vital interests. If I know that if I go to the square and say what I think, I will be whisked away by government agents and tortured in order to find out who my friends are and what I read, the threatened assault against my psychological stability is also a coercive threat against my free speech.

A right that protects me against tor-hire, partially protects my free speech as well as my mental balance. In this respect this right helps to anchor other rights. Rodin forthcoming makes the significant additional point, however, that one can embrace an absolute prohibition against torture even if one does not believe that the right not to be tortured is absolute: Suppose, for example, that just as many people believe that the right not to be killed is not absolute and that one can forfeit it in at least some cases by killing someone else, the right not to be tortured aught also be thought not absolute and one could forfeit it by, say, torturing others.

Justifying torture becomes impossible. Any way designed to justify its use is when certain assumptions are generally made. Do we or do we not torture the terrorist? Yet even in this extreme situation, consider what is assumed. First, one assumes that the bomb actually exists. Perhaps it does not—is there any irrefutable evidence to prove that it does? Without clear proof that lives are actually in danger, torture is an unjustifiable affront to the rights of the suspected terrorist.

Secondly, it is assumed that we have the right person in custody. What if the authorities arrested the wrong person? Thirdly, one assumes that torture will lead to the disarmament of the bomb. This cannot be certain by any means; what if the terrorist cannot disarm the bomb? What if he does not know its location? What if he is resistant enough to torture so that, in the two hours before the explosion, no useful information can be gleaned? Practically, can one even hope to that a man ready to die for his believes is going to give up this information up?

In conclusion, I do not believe using torture is a viable mean. It is barbaric and unconstitutional, even if, someone may be coursed into using it to get what he or she wants. But in those cases I believe it is our own instinct that drives us and not our right state of mind. Torturing a person is unconstitutional but to understand why it is, just imagine being in their shoes. You can order a custom essay on Torture now!


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Torture has been considered an art form in some countries. Victor Hugo once said, "The guillotine is the ultimate expression of law, and its name is vengeance." The executioner, in the theater of the guillotine, has a very special role.

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An essay concerning the use of torture, the reasons to use torture, and a few types of torture, use during the inquisition as well as of today. by Grey Fox in Torture, Humanities, and use of torture. The Morality of Torture Essay - Torture is a controversial topic in today’s society. What is torture. Torture can be defined as, ‘the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.’(Dershowitz, A) According to international law, it is illegal to use torture in any situation of any kind.

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by HENRY SHUE THE PRACTICE. Torture has torn through additional restraints since I first tried to get a grip on it (Shue ). Then I began by apologizing for raising an issue that I thought most Americans considered closed. obidytfp.cf essay writing service produces % custom essays, term papers & research papers, written by quality essay writers only. The prices start from $10 per page. You can order a custom essay on Torture .