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  #1  
Old 09-01-2009, 06:59 PM
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Default Is torture ever morally acceptable? The 'ticking bomb' scenario.

Torture can be defined as, ‘the officially sanctioned infliction of intense suffering, aimed at forcing someone to do or say something against his or her will.’

Now whilst torture is illegal in international law, it is obviously still prevalent in the world today, the issue of torture had really been ignored and accepted as wrong for years until the terrorism attacks and the ticking bomb scenario.

For those that don't know, this is the ticking bomb scenario;

The ‘ticking bomb’ scenario is a commonly cited moral problem that causes us to question our moral priorities. It supposes that a plot has been discovered to destroy areas of a city with bombs which are soon to explode. It would be impossible to evacuate the city in time but possible to disarm the bombs if they could be found. A suspect, who knows the location of the bombs, is arrested by the police but refuses to divulge the information during interrogation. Can the suspect be tortured to extract the information? The scenario forces us to make a choice between two evils; we can choose to do no harm ourselves, but our passivity will have terrible consequences, or we can do something morally repulsive, and torture a suspect to save the lives of others.

This is a situation where many believe torture could indeed be morally acceptable. By not trying to get the information out of an immoral person, innocent moral people may be killed. In this case it is weighing up whether or not torture is morally acceptable when trying to save lives.

Now for some opinions on the ticking bomb scenario (I did not write these)

On each side of the ticking bomb debate are Deontologists and consequentialists;

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deontologism
Deontologism 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.’ Under the first rule, the act of torture cannot be justified as we would not accept it being universalised and potentially used against ourselves. Under the second, torture is wrong because torturing a person for information is to use them as a means only. Thus Kant’s logic leads to the conclusion that torture cannot be justified under any circumstances. The individual who chooses not to torture makes the correct moral decision regarding their actions despite the terrible consequences that might result.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Consequentialism
On the other side of the argument, consequentialists see no action is bad in itself because morality is decided by consequences of actions. The ‘good’ of saving the innocent people must be weighed up against the ‘bad’ (torturing the suspect) in order to make a decision on the correct course of action. Bentham calls this method of moral evaluation the ‘principal of utility.’ This approach has great strengths but also creates complex questions: is torture still the lesser evil if it only saves one person? Is it morally right to torture a person’s children to extract a confession? Is it morally right to torture ninety-nine people in an attempt to save one-hundred others? In theory this type of thinking can justify extreme inhumanity as long as it is calculated as the lesser evil.
Now, here are two very strong and reasonable sides of this debate, one believes that morality is universal and the other believes that morailty is individual and has to be weighed up.

The ticking bomb scenario may be hypothetical, but could one day very easily become a reality. When looking at this situation, there are many things you have to weigh up;

Would the suspect give accurate information?
Could the suspect be guaranteed to be involved?
By torturing a suspect or criminal, does this make the torturer immoral?
Could torturing 1 person be acceptable if it saved 100 lives?
Are the torturers certain that their are bombs?

That is a lot to consider when weighing up if torture is morally acceptable in this situation. Consequentialists would argue that torture in this situation is acceptable here because the torturer's actions can be legitimised because he could save multiple lives. However, Deontologists would disagree and say that torture is never acceptable because it is universally decided that torture is wrong and doing so would be immoral.

My view is that in this situation, torturing somebody to get information has no guarantee of working and therefore is not morally acceptable. The torturer has no way of knowing if;
1. The information will be accurate.
2. The suspect is involved.
3. Lives can definitely be saved.
I often agree with consequentialists, because I agree that no action can be generalisable to the whole world, and in certain situations, certain 'immoral' actions become acceptable when weighing up the negatives of completing this action or not. However, in this situation, there is too much ambiguity and a lack of knowledge to justify torturing another human being, and I would consider it morally unacceptable.

What are your thoughts on this situation? Do you side with Consequentialists or Deontologists? and most of all, Is torture ever morally acceptable?
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Old 09-01-2009, 10:18 PM
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Mother Gang Raped by Ten Teenagers; Son Forced to Join In

By David Lohr

July 10, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Crime Library) — When you make your living writing true crime, you come to expect the worst out of criminals, and there's not much out there that shocks you anymore. Or so I thought. I was quickly reminded of that feeling when I found out about the case in point, where a group of thugs raped a woman and then forced her son to join in the sexual assault. I must warn you, the details of this crime are not for the faint of heart.

On June 18, at about 9 p.m., a woman was roused to a knock on her front door. When she asked who it was, a young man told her his vehicle had a flat tire. Not wanting to turn away someone in need, the woman opened her door and offered her assistance. The moment the door opened, a group of gun-wielding suspects forced their way inside. According to the police report, the group consisted of at least ten teenage boys.

Once inside, the suspects separated the woman and her 12-year-old son, neither of whom have been identified, and demanded money. The details of what happened next are sketchy; however, at some point, the teens beat the young boy and smashed a plate over his head. From there, the violence only escalated.

All ten of the suspects gang raped, sodomized and beat the woman in the presence of her son. The victim's screams only served to fuel the suspects' depraved acts. After having their fill of the mother, the suspects turned their attention to her young son, forcing him at gunpoint to have sex with her for their perverse amusement.

The indignities the mother and son suffered are unimaginable. Unfortunately, the suspects did not leave it at that. Before leaving, they held the boy down and poured numerous household-cleaning agents into his eyes. Afterwards, the group of thugs scrounged together a few hundred dollars worth of cash and jewelry and fled the scene.

Following the attack, the victims walked nearly a mile to the hospital for medical treatment. Once there, staff at the hospital notified police of the incident.

When police arrived at the scene of the crime, they were able to recover DNA evidence in a condom found in the victims' home and at least one palm print. Last week, the state crime lab allegedly matched the DNA to two teens ages 14 and 16.

Police immediately arrested them and charged the two teens as adults with armed sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, sexual performance by a child, armed home invasion and aggravated battery. Both are being held in the Palm Beach County Jail without bail.

"Any rape case is horrible, but this takes it to another level, something you can't think of even in your worst dreams," police spokesman Ted White told The Associate Press Friday.

White told the AP that the two suspects are not cooperating with the investigation but that further arrests are pending. The eight remaining suspects are believed to be between the ages of 14 and 18.

Both of the victims have been released from the hospital and have left the Palm Beach area out of fear for their safety. According to Palmbeachpost.com, the woman will not even tell her family where her and her son are staying.

"She's not telling me where she is right now," her brother, who has not been identified, told the Web site. "Because of everything that happened, she thinks they're [the remaining suspects] still walking around. She doesn't want them to find her."

The victims were active in church, and neither had any connection to the two teens that have been arrested in connection with the crimes. At this time, police believe they were random targets.

Suffice it to say, the perpetrators of this most heinous crime should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, any punishment the state deals out will pale in comparison to the horrors the victims were subjected to.

The West Palm Beach Police Department has set up a fund so donations can be made to the family. Anyone who wishes to contribute can send money to any Wachovia Bank and request that it be placed in the St. Ann's Victim's Assistance Fund.
Read that story.

Now, tell me you don't feel rage and don't want to see the absolute worst happen to those kids? Tell me you don't want to see them repeatedly raped in prison and then die the most painful death there possibly is? Tell me that. You can't, because that's how you're going to feel right after reading that disgusting story. It's the same I felt a few days ago when I read the story about the guy who kept a woman for 18 years locked up in a shed.

However, those are INITIAL feelings. Under no circumstances, should you anyone ever act on a first reaction, because it's the wrong thing to do, just like torture is. It's as the old saying goes, "Two wrongs don't make a right". Yes, there are scum in this World, but what most don't realize, there are way more good people in this World then there are bad. But even still... a lot of necessarily "good" people still have bad judgment. They don't realize that by solving hatred and pain with more hatred and pain against those who hated and caused pain, they're just as bad as the person who committed the crime.

Torture is, in my book, completely unacceptable. I don't care what the person did, or how I initially react to the situation. Cooler heads do eventually prevail, and you have to realize that causing the same amount, or even more so, of pain the subject did, isn't going to solve anything or bring any "justice" to the situation.
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:13 AM
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This really is a hard debate... Is it morally, morally being the key word, acceptable? No I do not think it is morally acceptable, though sometimes in extreme situations I will note later, might be understandable. However I do not believe in torturing P.O.W's for information, which nine times out of ten will be useless as they are trained to give false information and even die before they give any knowledge of what they know. Also most foreign soilders who are captured or turn themselves in, really do not know to much about their's leaders master plans. They are followers, they are given a certain job and only the information pertaining to that job, nothing more, nothing less and they do not question it either. So no torturing for information is useless and makes those who do it in the name of patriotism more criminal, than patriots.

However on a personal level and it would take only a extreme situation for me to do so, e.g., the kidnapping or murder of my wife or another in my family because they are all I have and the police were not do their jobs properly or had nothing more to go on. If I knew someone had real evidence or information that would help me find the killers or kidnappers, I think I could possibly do whatever I had to, too get that information. I don't know, as I said it would have to be a very unlikely and extreme situation, but I thik I could. I very highly doubt anything like that will every happen though.
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:34 AM
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Of course we would all want to torture someone if we were pushed to the absolute brink of madness. If our families were tortured or killed, I'm sure all of us would want to retaliate. It doesn't make it right for torture to be acceptable, even if hundreds of lives were at stake. The main reason besides being morally unethically, is that it doesn't work. CIA Directors have said this. They have tortured and water boarded many suspected terrorists members and got nothing in return. If they did get some information, it was useless. Also, most of the time the suspects were innocent cab drivers.

In Abu Ghraib, soldiers were ordered to throw cold water on cell mates and shine bright light in there eyes every hour of the day. What did that accomplish? nothing but send American soldiers to jail and kill innocent prisoners. Torture doesn't accomplish anything, except turning people into monsters. Remember when torture was illegal? why isn't it now?
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:29 AM
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If you could be absolutely sure that the prisoner you're about to torture is involved in the bomb scenario and knows where the bomb is, I have no problem with torture. That's probably 'morally wrong' but I don't care. It's logically right. Is the wellbeing of one BOMBER more important than the lives of thousands? Not a chance. I know a lot of people go on the "We're all equal scale" but guess what? We're not. We're all born equal, yes. But we make choices which take away from that. And when the choice you've made is to kill thousands of people, and torture of that horrible person is the only way to save them, then I'd do it.
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Old 09-02-2009, 12:44 PM
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The problem I have with this ticking time bomb scenario (asides from the fact that it not only has never happened, but will likely never happen; life isn't like an episode of 24 people) is that it goes against everything that we're supposed to stand for. We're supposed to be the morally superior people; resorting to torture simply lowers us to their level.

I'm against torture, always, in any situation. It isn't right, no matter what the reason. Call me soft or a "pussy" or whatever you'd like, but I'm against violence in any form for any reason, and that includes violence to prevent more violence.
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:36 PM
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I'm against torture, always, in any situation. It isn't right, no matter what the reason. Call me soft or a "pussy" or whatever you'd like, but I'm against violence in any form for any reason, and that includes violence to prevent more violence.
I have a scenario, which is entirely realistic and not out of the question. I will be using 9/11 as my example, and I'd like to ask you how you would solve this.

Say an informant, or spy of somesort infiltrated and found out about the 9/11 attack before anything actually happened. Its expected that this attack will happen in at least 24 hours, and that anywhere from hundreds to millions could be harmed or killed. We've got our hands on a topnotch guy, and after hours of interigation he refuses to give in. You're honestly telling me, means of torture is out of the question, to save what even could be only 2 people. You're saying that one persons life is more important than 2 to even a million? I disagree, and think torture should be usable, in this case and only this case.
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Milkyway! View Post
I have a scenario, which is entirely realistic and not out of the question. I will be using 9/11 as my example, and I'd like to ask you how you would solve this.

Say an informant, or spy of somesort infiltrated and found out about the 9/11 attack before anything actually happened. Its expected that this attack will happen in at least 24 hours, and that anywhere from hundreds to millions could be harmed or killed. We've got our hands on a topnotch guy, and after hours of interigation he refuses to give in. You're honestly telling me, means of torture is out of the question, to save what even could be only 2 people. You're saying that one persons life is more important than 2 to even a million? I disagree, and think torture should be usable, in this case and only this case.
The problem with that phantom (and highly, HIGHLY implausible) scenario is that you seem to think that torture will make him talk and save the day. Torture almost never works, and most of the time those confessions are absolutely false. If this top level man you're speaking of knew the ins and outs of the plan of 9/11, do you really think some torture is going to make him tell you how to stop it? These are the same people who strap bombs onto their chest and walk into a crowded public area, for no other reason than to kill people and cause panic. If they're willing to die for something that trivial, you think they're going to cave in on something like 9/11? Not a chance.

Besides, the threat of torture works just as much as the actual torture itself.

Torture doesn't work, has never worked, and shouldn't be used by government that considers themselves to be civilized in my opinion. Torture is for the weak-minded.

The question here isn't whether or not torture could save lives. It's about whether or not it's morally acceptable. And in my opinion, it isn't. At all.
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:42 PM
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X has a point. Violence for the sake of preventing violence gets us nowhere. Why torture someone that will give up false information in the first place? Abu Grahib is an example of that. Waterboarding prisoners and humiliating them to the point where you don't consider them humans is just fucking disgusting.

But there's gonna come a point(ticking bomb scenario) where you'll say: are the lives of the city worth the life of one man? It isn't an easy question to answer. That one person might be the bad guy in general, but it can't be a clear cut and dried choice...at least for me, it won't.

I'm the type of guy that gets stuff on his conscience, even the most trivialistic of things. Choosing one city over the life and sanity of one man can have repercussions about it. After all: doesn't a choice have its consequences?
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:49 PM
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The problem with that phantom (and highly, HIGHLY implausible) scenario is that you seem to think that torture will make him talk and save the day. Torture almost never works, and most of the time those confessions are absolutely false. If this top level man you're speaking of knew the ins and outs of the plan of 9/11, do you really think some torture is going to make him tell you how to stop it? These are the same people who strap bombs onto their chest and walk into a crowded public area, for no other reason than to kill people and cause panic. If they're willing to die for something that trivial, you think they're going to cave in on something like 9/11? Not a chance.

Besides, the threat of torture works just as much as the actual torture itself.

Torture doesn't work, has never worked, and shouldn't be used by government that considers themselves to be civilized in my opinion. Torture is for the weak-minded.

The question here isn't whether or not torture could save lives. It's about whether or not it's morally acceptable. And in my opinion, it isn't. At all.
Do you sugest something like psychological pressure? I mean, if were expected to believe he has some sort of information to something as big as this, isn't it our duty to try and prevent it from happening? I understand the likelyness of this happening, the way I explained it is slim to none, but say it were possible. You really think we shouldn't do something along the lines of interrogation? Psychological pressure into the point of nearly driving them insane? Shocking? Then with the worst case scenario being torture? I'm not saying its something we should go in doing. But if we only have so much time left, you really don't think torture should be a very very last case scenario?


(Yes I understand interrogators today have better ways of interrogating people, and get nearly anything they want from words. But, in a since of morality, this is wrong to you?)

I was reading an article on torture:
http://www.strategypage.com/dls/arti...2/20020429.asp

I'm not sure about the truthness behind it, or scientific research. But it does say, that torture works, only if done by the right person, to the right person.


Quote:
The Soviet Union, over its seven decades of existence, literally wrote the book on non-physical torture. Part of this was due to the nature of the communist nations. They were police states and were constantly on the lookout for disloyalty. But the Soviet Union had another major advantage; it was able to create thousands of expert, career interrogators. These were men, and a few women, who spent decades perfecting their skills. The Soviet Union had several college level institutions that amassed and passed on vast amounts of knowledge and technique in the use of physical and psychological torture.

Despite the considerable skills of the communist interrogators, they were not always able to get the information, or confessions, they wanted. World War II saw an enormous amount of torture. The Nazis, who openly admired the superior interrogation skills of the Soviets, were more prone to use poorly trained investigators who went to physical torture quickly. The results were often dismal. Thousands of Russian and Allied victims took their secrets to their (usually unmarked) graves. The Soviets proved that, if you have the time (weeks or months) and skilled interrogators, you can break just about anyone. As for the few who resisted everything, a bullet in the back of the head was the usual result. The Soviet interrogators were not good losers.
Outside of the entire bullet in the back of the head. I would like to point out the fact that it says they could break just about anyone with their superior interrogating skills. With torture being a "Last resort" type of method. I think thats where I stand on the point of torture.
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