Essay The Ethics of Torture

Essay The Ethics of Torture

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In the United States legal system, torture is currently defined as “an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.” as defined by Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives (US Code, 1) Though this is a seemingly black and white definition, the conditional “…other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions…” have led many to question what precisely this entails. In other words, what are the lawful sanctions that permit such acts? Are they ethically right? Where is the line drawn as torture in this respect? Several arguments are offered.

To test what each ethical theory would say regarding the justification of such acts, I am utilizing the ‘ticking time bomb’ thought experiment. Simply put, this experiment provides a hypothetical scenario where an individual has knowledge of vital information regarding the disarmament of an active weapon that could potentially kill millions of individuals. (Wiki 1) Do we torture the individual? The norm is that Consequentialist theories (teleological) seem to have an almost universal stance supporting while Non-Consequentialist theories (deontological and natural rights) represent almost the entirety of the opposition. (Wiki 2) However, as you will learn, it is not as clearly defined as one may think.

Utilitarianism is roughly defined as being procedurally or morally right only if it benefits the majority of everyone. (Jason 5.8; 1) Following this model only regarding procedure, the action of torturing a suspect seems without a doubt, just....


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...cyclopedia. Web. .

Stanford 1
“Torture”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. .

NYT 1
Slackman, Michael. "The World: A Dangerous Calculus; What's Wrong With Torturing a Qaeda Higher-Up? - New York Times." Newspaper.

HR 1
"Human Rights Basics" Amnesty International USA | Protect Human Rights. Web.
.

Bible 1
"Judges 21:25b.” The Holy Bible; Old Testament. NKJV Print.

NY 1
“Ethics in the unethical: An interview with a FBI Interrogator” The New Yorker." Newspaper. http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/070219fa_fact_mayer

Bible 2
“Matthew 7:12a.” The Holy Bible; Old Testament. NKJV Print.

Jason
Jason, Gary. “Anthology for Introduction to Business Ethics” Print.

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