Why Torture is Morally Wrong

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Consider the following situation: You are an army officer who has just captured an enemy soldier who knows where a secret time bomb has been planted. Unless defused, the bomb will explode, killing thousands of people. Would it be morally permissible to torture them to get him to reveal the bomb’s location? Discuss this problem in light of both Utilitarian and Kantian moral theories and present arguments from both moral perspectives for why torture is morally wrong. At first glance, Utilitarian moral theories may seem to support the idea of torturing this innocent man. If we look at this situation we see that there is a dilemma of hurting one man, or having to bear the death of many. We may say that since the basis of Utilitarianism is…show more content…
Even though you may not like it, the greater good includes the enemy. If we reduce their utility, maybe they choose to plant another even bigger bomb in order to seek revenge. How many lives are at stake in these new situations? Doing what is best for the greater good in this situation can only be achieved by not torturing this man. There are alternative ways to handle this situation that will achieve a higher utility for both the enemy and us. For example, striking a deal that will please both parties, even sometimes giving the enemy a leg up, is better than torcher. If the enemy has a leg up they are happy, we are in less pain because thousands have not died and the nation as a whole will in less pain because they are not suffering the loss of loved ones. Everyone’s utility has been maximized. Kantian moral theories make a very strong argument for why torture is wrong just in its definition. If we are using someone in a way which they have not directly consented to this means we are using them as a mere means which is exactly what Kant proposes we avoid (O’Neil, 1986, p.45). Torcher, by definition, cannot be consented to. If it could be, it wouldn’t be called torture. That person would have asked for it and they would have a reason to gain something out of the situation. “The Formula of the End in Itself applies to the intentions on which one acts-not to some prettified version that one may avow”
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