Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A virtual ban on torture-redated

This is Bill Vallicella's treatment of the issue of torture. I think that we can justify a virtual, though not absolute, ban on torture by requiring that, if torture is justified, we must have good reason before we do it to suppose that we will get accurate information for the person being tortured the value of which will outweigh any harm we do by torturing, and that there is no other way to get that information. But don't most torture victims just say anything they have to say to get it stopped, accurate or not? (That's what I'd do. I'd tell my captors what I thought they wanted to hear, not the truth). Experts on interrogations say that torture is not effective. And counting the cost is not as easy as it looks either. If we are to defeat terrorism we have to enlist the support of "moderate" Muslims to condemn the terrorists. How does it contribute to that goal if we start acting like the evil people they have always been told we are?

IF we really do have good consequentialist reasons to torture someone, then the deontologist-teleologist battle is joined. But first the above-mentioned epistemic difficulties must be surmounted, and to be honest I do not see how they possibly can be.

4 comments:

Rastaban said...

Good point.

properly basic said...

Has anyone seen this?

Thought Police: How Brain Scans Could Invade Your Private Life

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4226614.html

Yeehaaaa!

properly basic said...

Ooops! here it is.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4226614.html

Paul Manata said...

Bill,
Torture is effective, that's why people do it so often.

I also know that it is well known that if tortured, everyone talks (this isn't like 24 with Jack Bauer). The goal is to hold the info as long as you can. If your command knows you've been compromised, they can change plans, codes, etc.

As far as telling the truth, there are devises for that as well. Not all are mechanical, either.