The Ethics of Torture Essay examples

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The institution of torture has been in existence for quite sometime; however, it was not always seen as an ethical question. In antiquity, the Romans employed something known as “the cat-of-nine-tails,” which was a flogging instrument with nine sharp ends. However, the use of torture was not confined to the West, the Chinese utilized “bamboo sticks to beat people.” During antiquity, torture was used as a punishment, but during the Spanish Inquisition, this notion of torture evolved to a means to extract withheld information. Today torture is unofficially used to extract information; however, it is officially illegal according to the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions. Nonetheless, the issue of legality and…show more content…
It just so happens that one member of the local law enforcement is skilled in using torture as an integration technique. Both the police and the skilled torture are certain that the suspect knows where the nuclear device is and that, by torturing him, they can prevent the death of many innocents. Some would say, like Henry Shue that in this instance that the suspect could be morally tortured regardless of the law. The important factors are that, the authorities had a strong suspicion of an attack, and they had a suspect in hand. The authorities were sure that the suspect knew where the bomb was, and that upon torture the suspect would relinquish the bomb’s location. Henry Shue admits that this specific set of factors is very rare, and that torture should still be illegal. If the perfect situation presents it self, he argues, that there is a moral justification, if not a duty, to torture in order to prevent the loss of innocent life. Now, Shue qualifies what torture is by saying “the torture is purely interrogational,” meaning that no serious harm will come of the person being tortured. In essence, the immorality of torture is not absolute—it is conditional. In addition, by saying that torture is ethical when x y and z happen, means that the consequences of torture are being used to judge torture’s morality. However, this is problematic because it goes against

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