News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Torture and the "Ticking Bomb" Argument

Monday, December 12, 2005

Torture and the "Ticking Bomb" Argument

As I suggested in a previous posting, most of the arguments that advocates "for" torture advance are simply fallacious at best, dodgy at worst. No doubt, they are simply unethical. I have not had time to take up the arguments against torture, something I had promised earlier and yet not found time to do. Now a decent refutation of the torture argument has been done by Majikthese. It takes on the most favorite argument, the one where the fate of the world is resting in the brain of a terrorist and you have to get out of him. The only way--"of course"--is by torture...

The great thing about her argument is that its in simple easy to understand language, even for a non-expert like most of us. For context, I'll just give a snippet of her argument, leaving you to go to her site for the rest of it.

Torture proponents cite ticking bomb scenarios as if there were an obvious link between these thought experiment and U.S. policy. At best TBC show that individual acts of torture are permissible. It says nothing about the morality of a policy of state-sponsored torture.


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