January 26, 2015

THE MORE INTERESTING QUESTION IS THE REVERSE:

Can Torture Ever Be Moral? (GARY GUTTING and JEFF MCMAHAN,  JANUARY 26, 2015, NY Times)

G.G.: But you do agree that torture can, in extreme cases, be moral. Why do you reject the absolute view that any instance of torture is immoral?

J.M.: Torture can be morally justifiable, and even obligatory, when it is wholly defensive - for example, when torturing a wrongdoer would prevent him from seriously harming innocent people. It could do that by forcing a person to reveal the location where he has planted a bomb, or hidden a hostage who will die if not found. It can be morally justifiable to kill a person to prevent him from detonating a bomb that will kill innocent people, or to prevent him from killing an innocent hostage. Since being killed is generally worse than being tortured, it should therefore be justifiable to torture a person to prevent him from killing innocent people. In cases in which torture is defensive in this way, the person tortured is not wronged. Indeed, he could avoid the torture simply by doing what he is morally required to do anyway - namely, disclose the location of the bomb or hostage.

Could it ever be moral not to torture terrorists (wrongdoers) who have targeted the citizenry (innocents) for information about potential attacks?

 

Posted by at January 26, 2015 3:06 PM
  

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