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View Poll Results: Should torture be used?

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  • Torture is morally justified but should still be illegal

    2 8.70%
  • Torture is morally justified and in this specific case should be legal

    4 17.39%
  • Torture is morally justified and should have broad legal acceptance

    1 4.35%
  • Torture is always immoral

    10 43.48%
  • Torture is immoral because it is ineffective

    1 4.35%
  • Torture is immoral but should be legal in this specific case

    4 17.39%
  • Other

    1 4.35%
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Results 46 to 55 of 55
  1. #46
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    PC Gamer Tag: BeachGaara Xbox Live Gamertag: BeachGaara PSN ID: BeachGaara
    I was under the impression that in this scenario we don't have three days.
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  2. #47
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    Well defended James, thanks, that was interesting.
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  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeachGaara View Post
    I was under the impression that in this scenario we don't have three days.
    I'm perfectly aware of that. It also makes no difference.

    Firstly Alexander faced no ticking bomb, so there was no (immediate) urgency to his interrogation. There was no need to do it in less time.

    Secondly Ali had been subject to a serious of counterproductive interrogations beforehand, which inevitably makes the task more difficult.

    Thirdly the “ticking” aspect of the ticking bomb isn't exactly consistent. It perfectly well could be three days until detonation.

    Fourthly the interrogators had less information on Ali than an interrogator would have on a suspect in a Western state.

    Finally when Alexander was actually up against a ticking clock, and had to crack the terrorist in less than 10 hours, he did so with gusto.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.c.../aug/01/00014/

    He cracked a highly intelligent and committed terrorist in, what, 10 minutes do you reckon that took?
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  4. #49
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    PC Gamer Tag: BeachGaara Xbox Live Gamertag: BeachGaara PSN ID: BeachGaara
    Well I still maintain that in the fanciful world of this dilemma you could engineer a scenario where these people would torture.

    Also he didn't really get the guy to talk, just to say a name.

    I'm not saying I advocate torture, never have, but I just accept there's a point you can get to where it's the only option and you'll take it and anyone who says different is either naive or a liar.
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  5. #50
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    Just found this during my research (shocingly this was a chapter in a book published by Cambridge University Press) http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_1_terrorists.html

    Probably the most stupid thing I've read so far, and I've gone through a lot. It is so breathtakingly stupid that I don't know what to write about it.

    This, in particular, is just... I don't even have words: "Many prisoners disliked the move from Camp X-Ray, the first facility used at the base, to the more commodious Camp Delta, because it curtailed their opportunities for homosexual sex, says an intelligence analyst."

    I could probably write a dissertation on that sentence alone and still feel I need to do more.
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  6. #51
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    PSN ID: DRoveda
    Quote Originally Posted by RobertD View Post
    My issue with the ticking bomb scenario is that it posits a false dilemma. Actual circumstances where it’s necessary to torture a suspect in order to prevent an imminent terrorist attack are unheard of outside of movie scripts.

    OK, in the extremely unlikely scenario that life imitated art and such a scenario actually unfolded: sure, go ahead and torture the guy. Do whatever is necessary to prevent the loss of innocent life.

    But let’s not kid ourselves that this is the type of situation in which torture would normally be used. In the vast majority of cases, there is no imminent danger. It’s just a guy who is suspected of being involved in something. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. Maybe he knows something useful. Maybe he doesn’t. Are the interrogators racing against time to prevent imminent disaster? Not unless they are Keifer Sutherland.

    In practise it’s never as clear cut as the ticking bomb scenario would have it. If it was, then the decision would be a lot easier to make. Who wouldn’t say it’s permissible to torture in order to prevent a bomb going off in the middle of New York? That’s not the kind of issue we’re up against.

    Torture probably is useful to obtain information under certain circumstances. I wouldn’t be naïve enough to say that it isn’t. But it’s largely dependent on the quality of intelligence. Have they actually picked up the right guy? Are they asking him the right kind of questions? By and large, it’s probably more effective to cultivate good relations with reliable intelligence sources and use persuasion and psychology to extract what you need from suspects. Torture should be kept in reserve as a final resort, only to be used in critical circumstances when all other avenues have failed.

    That’s not just a moral issue. It’s an issue of practicality.
    Au contraire! There was a similiar issue we dealt with in law school. The scenario isn't a terrorist attack but for all intents and purposes it fits.

    This was a true case: In Germany the child of a banking family(iirc) was abducted by a student who wanted to ransom the kid. However, the the student was arrested with the kid still missing.
    He made it clear, that the kid would die, unless found in time but was unwilling to tell the police where it was hid.

    This put the officers in the same moral dilemma: Should we use force to extract the information and save a child or is it morally wrong?(in the end the police officer used force but still came too late)

    Of course, the fact that it's the police and "just" one life to save has a few different implications but the main issue remains the same.

    Personally I am not opposed to torture in these lifethreatening situations. There's two very strong arguments to be made:

    1) Utilitarianism. If only has to suffer, to save the life of another or die to save the lives of many, then from a utilitarian point of view, the action is virtuous. Every action is deemed appropiate or not in regards to its rewards and consequences. I see why a lot of people dislike this very rational and maybe even cold use of logic and ethics, but I find it to be logical and basically uninfluenced by many cultural differences, unlike the concepts of human dignity etc.

    2) Ah, human dignity, that's a tough one. Referred to in many constitutions, the spearhead of any law prohibiting torture or the death penalty. Still, I am not sold on the whole concept.
    It's foundations in christian society in a time where these things actually mattered and evolution was unheard of, Immanuel Kant's philosophy became impregnable and apparently everlasting.
    However, I find it hard to sustain the whole concept when in the end humans are nothing more than the most evolved mammals. Humans are in fact not all that different from animals which is why I don't believe the concept to be rational, but more of a legitimation of human superiority, self-serving more than anything.
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  7. #52
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    I'm currently reading The End of Faith by Sam Harris and he has raised an argument that makes me reconsider my Torture is always immoral position. He wrote that if we are happy with the idea of modern warfare (dropping bombs and the like) and we've made peace with innocent civilians being killed under the guise of "collateral damage" then how much worse is torturing a terror suspect really? Basically: if you're fine with dropping a bomb and possibly killing innocent people, why is torturing somebody who is certainly not innocent a bad thing? Even if they give no intelligence or bad intelligence, it's worth a shot.

    I don't have a cogent response to this argument--and my gut is still telling me that there is a difference between the two cases that bears some caution--but it's certainly worth thinking about.

  8. #53
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    PSN ID: witchfinder91
    For people who don't have Harris' book, he talks about his position regarding torture at length here: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/w...bout-torture1/

    Harris' positions on terrorism in general are a complete mess. Everything by him I've read on the subject is just reactionary nonsense, displaying no research whatsoever.

    Regarding what you’ve just posted, it doesn’t really make sense. The deaths of civilians in bombing raids is unintentional, the torture of a ‘terrorist’ (I haven’t read the book but all his writings only talk of Muslim terrorists. That says it all really) is intentional. There is a difference between knowing something might happen, and intending that something does happen. I don’t know how the two can be compared.

    This is the main problem with Harris.

    Such “ticking-bomb” scenarios have been widely criticized as unrealistic. But realism is not the point of such thought experiments. The point is that unless you have an argument that rules out torture in idealized cases, you don’t have a categorical argument against the use of torture.
    Harris argues that the plausibly of the ticking bomb scenario is not relevant, but then goes on to say that “it is in everyone’s interest for men and women of goodwill to determine what should be done if a person appears to have operational knowledge of an imminent atrocity[.]”

    In other words, plausibility isn’t important, but we should prepare for it anyway. Erm, what?

    The point Harris misses, like so many advocates of torture, is that this obsessive focus on the ticking bomb scenario creates its own reality. Let’s be clear here (because he isn’t) – Harris wants everybody involved in interrogations to believe that torture is an acceptable way of gaining intelligence if it is deemed necessary. Is he insane? The inevitable result of acceptance of torture is systematic use of the practice. This is where Harris’ painful lack of knowledge comes in – time after time after time people have argued his position on torture, and time after time after time it has led to mass brutality. Anyone who has read the most basic history of warfare and terrorism will know this. Harris clearly hasn’t.

  9. #54
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    Yeah that blog entry refers to the section of the book I've just covered. I don't think his point is as nonsensical as you do though. It seems to me that there is a strange disconnect between being okay with the possibility of civilian casualties in a bombing run and being fervently against interrogating a criminal. But, like I said, I'm not for torture (and neither is Sam Harris) but it was a line of thought I hadn't considered before (long distance atrocities versus close-up atrocities).

  10. #55
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    PSN ID: witchfinder91
    There is an interesting discussion to be had about why certain acts of violence are culturally acceptable, and why certain acts are not. However we should use the disconnect to reevaluate our opinions regarding what is acceptable, not use it to increase acceptance of other methods, which is what Harris does (he clearly isn't "not for torture" though: "Nevertheless, I believe that there are extreme situations in which practices like “water-boarding” may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary").

    But I'm less interested in the philosophical side of the debate than I am the factual side. I honestly couldn't case less whether someone comes up with a far-fetched scenario whereby torture may be justified, I care about what happens in real life. The problem with the ticking bomb scenario is that our actions regarding real life events can be shaped by a thought experiment. There is a reason why torture advocates rely on arguments like the ticking bomb scenario, and it's because overwhelmingly the empirical evidence shows that torture is disasterous.


 
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