REL 104B - Torture

REL 104B - Torture - Alexandra Clayton, Alison Flanagan,...

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Alexandra Clayton, Alison Flanagan, Caitlin Howard, Kaelyn Lykins, Molly Parks Rel 206 B- Benko April 27, 2010 War and Torture Throughout history, mankind has been at odds with itself, whether in family quarrels or international disputes. Humans have always taken part in violent conflicts where ends justify means and lives are destroyed. Especially in times of war, the most controversial of these means has been the various methods of torture. This paper explores the ethics and justice of torture practices by a government group after war has begun. Torture as an interrogation method has a very specific definition which allows for several loopholes. By definition, all methods of intentional torture involve putting a person in extreme physical suffering, whether it be mentally or physically. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines torture in two ways: the intentional infliction of extreme physical suffering on some non-consenting, defenseless person, and the intentional, substantial restriction of the exercise of the person's autonomy, achieved by means of physical suffering. Some examples of torture include searing one with hot irons, burning at the stake, electric shock treatment, cutting out parts of the body, severe beatings, suspending one by the legs with their arms tied behind their back, applying thumbscrews, inserting a needle under the fingernails, drilling through an anaesthetized tooth, making a person crouch for hours in the ‘Z’ position, water boarding, and denying food, water, or sleep for days or weeks on end. Some of these examples are not
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necessarily physically painful, but they are considered torture because they put one in a state of suffering because of the agony that they endure during the process. The legal definition of torture specifies that torture is an illegal act, therefore, if a particular act is not deemed illegal, then it is not considered torture and one cannot be persecuted for authorizing or practicing it. This legislative provision allows officials to interrogate war prisoners in ways necessary for information extraction. To be clear, this means certain acts that are popularly considered torture are not necessarily classified as such by law, and therefore are not punishable by law. Many immensely varied opinions exist about the legitimacy of legalized torturous acts. There is a great amount of opposition to torture argued from several viewpoints, which can be narrowed down to three main arguments, those of which include the intentional infliction of pain, deliberate diminishment of individual autonomy, and some of the many religious beliefs against torture. Individuals who hold an ethical and sympathetic opposition to the severity of intentionally inflicted pain claim it robs the person being tortured of individual autonomy, and will sometimes support such arguments with religious beliefs and doctrine. The disagreement lies with the extreme level of physical suffering that is inflicted upon the torture subject, because
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This note was uploaded on 09/14/2010 for the course ENG 200 taught by Professor English during the Spring '10 term at Meredith.

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REL 104B - Torture - Alexandra Clayton, Alison Flanagan,...

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