Torturing suspected criminals and terrorists is a very controversial subject, the discussion around it, is grouped in mainly two. Some think that torture is justified, often as a ‘lesser evil’ for a greater goodin special cases, others think that whatever the reason, torture should never use it.
First let us explain what we mean by torture. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy arrivesat the conclusion that ‘torture is (a) the intentional infliction of extreme physical suffering on some non-consenting, defenceless person; (b) the intentional, substantial curtailment of the exercise of the person's autonomy (achieved by means of (a)); (c) in general, undertaken for the purpose of breaking the victim's will.’
The physical suffering could sometimes include mental suffering, insituations where the torturer would torture the victim’s parents or children, or if they insist on his phobia. It is always going to be by restricting one’s individual autonomy, as it is implied in the first provision. The torturer cannot apply non consensual extreme physical pain, without exercising power overt the victim’s defenceless body and therefore cutting out the victim’s individualautonomy, by making from its body an object, nothing he can have control of.
In the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and degrading treatment or Punishing (1984) the UN hold a difference between inhuman treatment and torture. An inhuman treatment doesn’t have to include extreme physical pain, thus it is not literally ‘torture’. However it is still extremely morally wrong andsometimes worse than torture because of its humiliation, human degradation of the individual.
The purpose of torture will be in general to break the victim’s will, in order to get from him informations for example. Sometimes the reason can be punishment, seeking a deterrent effect, but even there it is indirectly breaking someone’s will about something he did wrong which he probably believes right.
Wecan have to views on the sense of torture, the maximal sense and the minimal sense. A minimalist sense, will imply that the victim will disclose eventually everything he knows but the maximal sense suggest that breaking the victim’s will , will amount him to say anything the torturer want to here in order to end it.
The target of torture is therefore the autonomy of the victim so as to obtain abreak down of its will.
Now after analysing how torture can in some circumstances be actually considered as morally justified, I will prove you that whatever the reason is torture is not the solution and finally its effect legally.
One can compare torture to killing , both cease the normal conduct of human life, the latter forever. But a victim experiencing torture will suffer the mostacute pain during it and afterwards, the consequences not only physical but can be as well psychological. The victim can be for his whole life affected by that utmost outraging experience. He might have preferred death to that. Not that the wrongness for torture would be greater, because by killing not only you infringe ones autonomy but you take the right to life, whereas in torture only theindividual’s autonomy is damaged. So the greater evil is still killing. Not that one by torturing instead of killing would be less liable, but if you believe that torture is an absolute moral wrong, then you would also think the same as for killing. But one knows that in killing, you have defences, and situations, where the defendant did not have the choice (self-defence for example). So you must believeas well that torture is not an absolute moral wrong either. The most common example is the ‘ticking bomb’, it explains that in a one-off act in an extreme emergency you can use torture. If the police would have caught a terrorist which they know has put a nuclear bomb somewhere, and is about to explode but he does not want to speak, then if they are absolutely sure he is not innocent, they do...
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