Deontologist is an approach which seeks to create universal rules for the morality of human action; its ideas of common humanity and fundamental human rights were very influential in the banning of torture. Kant’s deontological approach creates two universal rules by which moral questions can be addressed: ‘Act as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature,’ and ‘Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.
Dershowitz’s main question: Is it morally permissible that a terrorist be tortured for the purposes of extracting information concerning an imminent terrorist attack (that is, in the so called ‘ticking bomb’ scenarios)?
The Act-Utilitarian Argument for Torture in Ticking Bomb Scenarios I have found can be divided into two steps. First, the ticking-bomb s...
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...The inhumanity of the act, along with its questionable usefulness and wider implications, makes torture always morally wrong. However, the humanity of the situation; (it will always be individual people who must make the decisions) must be taken into account as a mitigating factor.
These arguments lead me to believe that torture is unjustifiable, even in extreme cases. However, because the immediate choice is so difficult and because the person making it is possesses human emotions and instincts, I would not absolutely condemn the decision to torture provided it was made in an emergency situation and with the correct intention. To make prior judgement that torture is justified in some circumstances is dangerous and wrong – torture must be prosecuted as a crime wherever it occurs. However, to recognize the mitigating circumstances when it occurs is also important.
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