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Sat Dec 20, 2014, 04:56 PM

What's so wrong with torture? A defense of John McCain's view

A concise discussion of why torture is something we should never accept.

So why is it that torture is wrong in the first place? As a first approximation we can say that it is wrong because it is cruel and inhumane, but without further clarification the conclusion that it is never acceptable does not follow from this. Why doesn’t it follow? Because there are various scenarios – which I am not going to go through the pointless exercise of trying to dream up – in which torturing someone in possession of critical information might be the only way to stop some impending slaughter. In this kind of a situation it looks as though we may face a dilemma with the following structure: On the one hand we can accept the fact that a lot of people are about to die or, on the other hand, we can torture the hypothetical detainee and (if things go well) we may be able to stop this from happening.

The kind of scenario I have just sketched – let’s call it a ‘Doomsday Scenario’ – is clearly conceivable and I admit that we should face up to this. Nevertheless, my view is that – even in such a scenario – there is no dilemma. Why not? Because there is a more serious and more definitive criticism to be laid at the feet of torture then just that it is cruel and inhumane. What is most fundamentally wrong with torture is that when we engage in it we cross a line and express contempt for the victim, for ourselves, and for humanity in general. This is what John McCain is getting at when he says “It’s not about them. It’s about us — what we were, what we are, and what we should be. And [what we should be] is a nation that does not engage in these kinds of fundamental violations of the fundamental, basic human rights that we guaranteed when we declared our independence.”


http://wescammenga.com/2014/12/19/whats-so-wrong-with-torture-a-defense-of-john-mccains-view/

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Reply What's so wrong with torture? A defense of John McCain's view (Original post)
wc89 Dec 2014 OP
wc89 Dec 2014 #1

Response to wc89 (Original post)

Sat Dec 20, 2014, 05:25 PM

1. I edited this to make it a little more clear what is going on in the blog post

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