Is torture ever morally justifiable?

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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#181  Postby Federico » Sep 15, 2010 2:53 pm

Federico wrote:The usual argument of anti-torture people "they will tell the torturer anything just to make him stop", was probably right at the time of the Inquisition . Nowadays, if a strongly suspected terrorist and terrorists' trainer gives the torturer a false information when asked "where have you planted the bomb", and the bomb explodes killing scores of people, then he/she is kept under a protracted but non lethal form of torture until he/she provides a piece of useful information.


That's what I wrote in August 2010 for the thread "Is torture ever morally justifiable?" In other words, I believe that, in very specific cases, a non lethal form of torture such as "Waterboarding" might be morally justified to save lives.
More recently, an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail reveals that the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) would use torture-tainted info.
At the same time, a CSIS briefing asserts that the agency has never condoned torture and finds it abhorrent.
They add, however, that Canadians would not forgive the intelligence service if it completely ignored information that could have been used to investigate and prevent a terrorist attack because that tip came from a country with a suspect human rights reputation.
It is obvious CSIS found itself in the horns of a dilemma: On one hand it considers torture immoral and would never directly use it to gather information. On the other hand, in the interest of the Canadian people, it wouldn't shy away from making use of information obtained through torture by a third party.

I would say the whole thing is rather hypocritical in a Pilatesque way: "You go ahead and torture the individual; I'll wash my hands of it but if you obtain some valuable information I will use it.
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.(Martin Luther King Jr)
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#182  Postby Loke » Sep 19, 2010 6:07 pm

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence

Bertrand Russell

But wisdom is proved right by her actions

Matthew 11:19


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I've coined my own law! :party:
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#183  Postby Cynergy » Sep 19, 2010 6:21 pm

I guess my argument is also based on utilitarianism:

(a) if I know that the torture of one will save 100 then ok (the greater good)

(b) It's a balancing act; i.e., I strongly believe that the torture of one will save 100. Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong. My belief (on whatever grounds) is sufficiently strong, and the threat so imminent, to persuade me of (a). I'm betting my conscience.
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Re: Obama must be impeached!

#184  Postby willhud9 » Feb 10, 2013 9:54 pm

Panderos wrote:
willhud9 wrote:But when information such as enemy troop movements and attack plans are essential information to know, and the POW knows the information the military needs (because more lives may be at stack) the use of inflicting pain (either physical or mental) is in my opinion justified, so long as the pain does not cause long lasting damage to the POW.

What about if lasting-damage torture is the only thing that can save you in the ticking bomb scenario? (BTW it's 'at stake' not at stack! :))


Oops that typo o.o

Also, I have no idea what my response would be since its an ethical one. But I would probably go with the ends justify the means. A terrorist who threatens the lives of many by planting a dirty bomb has essentially surrendered his or her freedoms and rights by threatening one of the most fundamental rights a person can have, life, of millions of people.

This is not the case of torturing an innocent to save millions, but a case of torturing a person who has demonstrated he is violent in the hopes of killing millions of people. I feel the pros far outweigh the cons.

BUT, I am going to ask the mods to move my thread digression to a topic of its own. I feel it is worth discussing.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#185  Postby Reeve » Feb 25, 2013 1:39 am

I'm digging this thread up again!

An interesting article here on research done on torture :)

In 2009, two Harvard psychologists, Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner, published the results of a more scientific test. The researchers seemed to cause a subject pain (by dipping her hand in ice water), then asked volunteers if she was answering a series of questions truthfully. In fact, the “subject” was acting, and the questions and answers were scripted. What Gray and Wegner really wanted to know was whether the volunteers (the “audience,” so to speak) would judge guilt differently according to their distance from the person being tortured. They found that, on balance, people listening in the room next door thought the actor was guilty, but those listening to a recording of the interrogation assumed she was innocent.

I asked Gray, now at the University of North Carolina, what accounted for the reactions of the people who were closer. “It’s just cognitive dissonance,” he said. When you’re up close, “you feel really terrible about this person’s suffering, and you think there must be a reason for it.” When you listen to the tape, however, you’re more likely to engage in “moral typecasting,” linking suffering to innocence. “Put a little physical distance in there and you get a complete reversal of the effects.”
Gray’s research suggests that torture’s very repugnancy is what causes some of us to defend its use—we feel terrible about it, so we think there must be a reason for it.


Source: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2 ... SOC&dom=tw
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#186  Postby MattHunX » Feb 25, 2013 2:33 pm

Reeve wrote:I'm digging this thread up again!

An interesting article here on research done on torture :)

In 2009, two Harvard psychologists, Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner, published the results of a more scientific test. The researchers seemed to cause a subject pain (by dipping her hand in ice water), then asked volunteers if she was answering a series of questions truthfully. In fact, the “subject” was acting, and the questions and answers were scripted. What Gray and Wegner really wanted to know was whether the volunteers (the “audience,” so to speak) would judge guilt differently according to their distance from the person being tortured. They found that, on balance, people listening in the room next door thought the actor was guilty, but those listening to a recording of the interrogation assumed she was innocent.

I asked Gray, now at the University of North Carolina, what accounted for the reactions of the people who were closer. “It’s just cognitive dissonance,” he said. When you’re up close, “you feel really terrible about this person’s suffering, and you think there must be a reason for it.” When you listen to the tape, however, you’re more likely to engage in “moral typecasting,” linking suffering to innocence. “Put a little physical distance in there and you get a complete reversal of the effects.”
Gray’s research suggests that torture’s very repugnancy is what causes some of us to defend its use—we feel terrible about it, so we think there must be a reason for it.


Source: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2 ... SOC&dom=tw


Utterly ridiculous, that's not why it doesn't bother me/I'm alright with it, depending on the situation/I'm in support of it.

I cannot even remember what I've written in this thread, back when.

Never mind.

That's all.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#187  Postby tuco » Feb 25, 2013 3:17 pm

Same here, had to re-read it. Found out that it was a different thread where theses that when something is illegal it is not justifiable by definition was noted.

The theses that interrogator interrogates, extracted information is subject to verification, if valid presented as evidence and then judged, in the same room or in another, as truthful or not and acted upon, was beaten to death.

Makes one wonder if there are those who actually enjoy torturing someone else. At the end we still lack data here. That is also all.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#188  Postby Matthew Shute » Feb 25, 2013 5:28 pm

Torture is ineffective and, worse, often counterproductive.

An example report: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012 ... errogation

Furthermore, the state using torture is arguably a much bigger threat to civilisation than the terrorists we're talking about.

I'm not concerned about it being morally justifiable or otherwise. I'm concerned that it is stupid, and it does the work of the terrorists for them.
"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Christopher Hitchens.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#189  Postby Matthew Shute » Feb 25, 2013 5:53 pm

Reeve wrote:I'm digging this thread up again!

An interesting article here on research done on torture :)


MattHunX wrote:
Utterly ridiculous, that's not why it doesn't bother me/I'm alright with it, depending on the situation/I'm in support of it.

I cannot even remember what I've written in this thread, back when.

Never mind.

That's all.

Given that you don't say why you do support it now, why the research cited by Reeve is flawed, or why you're posting at all, this post doesn't add that much to the discussion.
"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Christopher Hitchens.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#190  Postby tuco » Mar 01, 2013 4:19 pm

Matthew Shute wrote:Torture is ineffective and, worse, often counterproductive.

An example report: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012 ... errogation

Furthermore, the state using torture is arguably a much bigger threat to civilisation than the terrorists we're talking about.

I'm not concerned about it being morally justifiable or otherwise. I'm concerned that it is stupid, and it does the work of the terrorists for them.


The article states:

"Officials familiar with the report said it makes a detailed case that subjecting prisoners to ­“enhanced” interrogation techniques did not help the CIA find Osama bin Laden and often were counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda."

Which is not claim about effectivity of torture as a technique to extract informations in general.

The theses that:

"..
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull's eye of your hearts."

is known, however and again, it does not tell whether "enhanced" interrogation techniques are mostly effective or not. It just says .. well what it says.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#191  Postby Matthew Shute » Mar 01, 2013 4:52 pm

The salient point in your quote from the commentary on the 6000 page document:

"Officials familiar with the report said it makes a detailed case that subjecting prisoners to ­“enhanced” interrogation techniques did not help the CIA find Osama bin Laden and often were counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda."

One reason for the counter-productivity is that those interrogated "harshly" will furnish you with a lot of misleading rubbish, especially if the torture victim lacks the information that the interrogators are looking to extract, or if the detainee does have the information you want but has enough fanaticism to risk further torture just to send you on a wild goose chase. In either event, you end up spending a lot of time and resources chasing the wisps and shadows of fantasies created to pacify or mislead interrogators.

In the Late Middle Ages, the Inquisition went much further in their "harshness" and "enhanced interrogating" than the CIA in the present day. That people could often be "persuaded" to "admit" to transforming into cats, flying on broomsticks, and causing thunderstorms ought to give us a hint about the reliability of much information elicited by torture.

Is the onus on the sceptic to "prove" a general lack of reliability, or on one who thinks that torture is more likely to yield reliable information than misleading rubbish? That is, to show some evidence that it is generally effective. Torture is surely effective, sometimes, in turning a human into a puppet who'll say whatever he thinks you want him to say. (I say "sometimes". A few heretics "asked" to renounce their heresies would hold out even against the methods of the Inquisition.)

And, again, I would say the threat presented by bands of terrorists who hope to destroy civilisation with a few explosions is not as great as the threat to our civilisation if civilisation abandons its own principles at the first sign of danger, and instead adopts the methods of, well, terrorism.
"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Christopher Hitchens.
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Re: Is torture ever morally justifiable?

#192  Postby tuco » Mar 01, 2013 8:01 pm

Thank you for being bold, I have read what I quoted carefuly, with good understanding.

What is meant by "being counterproductive in the broader campaign against al-Qaeda" is subject to interpretation. It does not certainly mean that "enhanced" interrogation techniques do not yeild results ~ information not extractable by conventional, legal, means. Your interpretaion is noted, still does not equal to robust, data based, argument against torture in general on the basis that "it does not work".

As I am not willing to repeat "my" core argument again, does not look like anyone even cares, further details are contained on earlier pages in this thread.
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