Torture, Cont. Spring 2013. Ticking bomb cases. Suppose we know X planted a bomb that is about to explode and would kill many people X is confessing, but not otherwise cooperating no other ways of extracting information. Ticking bomb cases and “war on terror”. Ticking bomb, cont.
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“Torture does not work”
If question is “Did Saddam Hussein collaborate with Osama bin Laden,” confessions under torture would be useless
“Torture is not an overall wise strategy because it will make those who are angry already yet more angry”
Assume there are justified cases of torture as stipulated by argument
Then explore whether this really says anything about regulation
Rarely will we be certain – if uncertain, may torture innocent people
Rarely will torture be essential: other techniques
So: granting that in ticking bomb cases torture is permissible (even required) does not imply that torture should be regulated
Exacerbating: people often have limited capacity to relate to another person’s pain, to understand “what torture is like”
“Few things give a rush quite like having unlimited power over another human being. A sure sign the rush is coming is pasty saliva and a strange taste in one’s mouth, according to a French soldier attached to a torture unit in Algeria. That powerful rush can be seen on the faces of some of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib a rush that undoubtedly changed them forever. The history of slavery tells us that one can’t feel such a rush without being corrupted by it.”
“To think that professionalism is a guard against causing excessive pain is an illusion. Instead, torture induces a dynamic that breaks down professionalism. Milgram has shown that professionalism can serve to excuse ever more violent behavior.”
So inference from existence of specific cases to need for regulation does not follow
In relevant cases applying torture may be like civil disobedience