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Unformatted text preview: Final Exam Notes • Henry Shue: Torture (1977) • The use of torture is widespread and growing • Argument: a comparison between some types of killing in combat and some types of torture shows how torture is morally worse than killing • Pro-torture Argument 1. Just combat killing is total destruction of a person 2. Torture usually only involves partial destruction 3. Total destruction is worse than partial destruction 4. Just combat killing is a greater harm 5. Just combat killing is sometimes okay 6. Torture is sometimes morally permissible • Shue: this argument is mistaken because it assumes that the only consideration relevant to moral permissibility is the amount of harm done • Assault upon the defenseless • The jus in bello principle of not attacking noncombatants is plausibly rooted in the general moral principle which prohibits assaults upon the defenseless • Shue suggests that this principle is derived from the sense of a “fair fight” • [But is this right? Why not place greater emphasis on the fact that the defenseless pose us no threat?] • Torture with constraints? • Perhaps the tortured is not defenseless if he has a mode of compliance that will end the torture [ interrogation torture ] • However, much of contemporary torture shares a feature with terrorism. Its aim is to intimidate other people besides the torture. This terroristic torture clearly violates the Kantian principle against using persons merely as means • Interrogational torture • In theory, may provide the mode of compliance, but in practice, “no constraint is to be counted upon” • Torture obliterates the distinction between those who have relevant information and those who do not • Morally permissible torture? • Consider the nuclear bomb in Paris… is torture permissible then? • But one should be careful not to make ethical policies based on extraordinary circumstances. Allowing for the possibility of torture in extraordinary cases makes it likely to occur in usual ones • The justified torturer may violate the law in an act akin to civil disobedience • Luban: Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb (2005) • Torture used to be against American values- see the prohibition on “cruel and unusual” punishments. • 9/11 changed this • “Liberalism” is a view that believes in limited government and the importance of human dignity and individual rights. This straddles the divide between the political left and right • “Ticking bomb scenarios” seemingly provide a liberal defense of torture • Claim: Ticking bomb stories are built on a set of assumptions that amount to intellectual fraud • It leads to a “torture culture” • “Everyone” thinking about torture begins and ends with the ticking bomb case • A 1995 Al Qaeda bombing plot was apparently thwarted by torture- although the torture was so severe that the interrogators were surprised he survived to give the information • The interrogators did not know of the plot before weeks of torture that very well may have killed the subject •...
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- Spring '08