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Torture and Ethics Paper

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Torture and Ethics Paper Jennifer Yow
ASJ 532
June 16, 2014

Since -9/11, torture has been official US policy by George Bush at the highest levels of government. On September 17, 2001, George Bush signed a secret finding empowering CIA to "Capture, Kill, or Interrogate Al-Queda Leaders." (Lendman, 2008). It also authorized establishing a secret global facilities to detain and interrogate them without guidelines on proper treatment. In the same time, Bush approved a secret "high-value target list" of about two dozen names. He also gave CIA free reign to capture, kill and interrogate terrorists that were not on the list (Lendman, 2008). What is torture: (a) the intentional infliction of extreme physical pain or suffering on some non-consenting, defenseless person; (b) the intentional, substantial curtailment of the exercise of a person's autonomy (achieved by means of (a)); (c) in general, undertaken for the purpose of breaking the victim's will." We will discuss terrorism and torture, look at arguments for and against each practice, and ethically evaluate those arguments (Lendman, 2008).. If pain is meant to break the will of the person, one must ask when we might have an interest in doing so. Certainly violating the freedom through violence is not acceptable for citizens; I may not justifiably torture you to obtain what I want from you, be it your property, your behavior, or your ideological consent (Lendman, 2008). Also, the police may not torture to obtain information, as we have the right to defend ourselves in a court of law, and the courts may not inflict pain as punishment for a crime, as there is a constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment (Lendman, 2008). The UN and the Geneva Convention prohibit torture in the war, because it is immoral to extract information through the infliction of intense pain and suffering, because all sides are likely to take prisoners of war, and because no one wants their soldiers to be tortured. In all of these instances, we do not have an interest in torturing because to do so would be morally repugnant (Lendman, 2008). Torture has resurfaced in ethical discussion because of terrorism. Terrorist acts, some claim, are so morally distinct from civilian crimes and acts of war as to warrant the torture in their prevention. If pain can prevent another 9/11, the thinking goes, it ought to be employed. Critics maintain that it is torture that is a potentially different act, and one that is never defensible, regardless of the consequences of not torturing (Lendman, 2008). Still others assert that while torture is always immoral, it might not be blameworthy when the lives of a sufficient number of people can be saved by it. Before we explore the arguments for and against the moral legitimacy of torture, we must first consider what is potentially different about terrorism (Lendman, 2008).
Utilitarian
When President Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he did so with the intent of avoiding a land invasion of Japan, which was estimated to result in millions more deaths, both Japanese and American, than dropping the atomic bomb (Jenkins, 2010). So, from a utilitarian perspective, it seems that terrorism could be justified , if the greatest happiness can be effected for the greatest number of people only through terrorist means, then it might be morally acceptable (Jenkins, 2010). Philosopher Kai Nielsen argues that terrorist acts can be evaluated by their political effects and their moral consequences. Terrorism is justified, he argues, when it is a politically useful weapon in a legitimate revolutionary struggle and when there are sound reasons for believing that by use of terrorist violence, rather than by use of force of another type or by no violence at all, there will be less injustice in the world than would otherwise be the case (Jenkins, 2010). If terrorism benefits a relative few at the expense of the welfare of many, it is not justified in this view (Jenkins, 2010). This explanation clarifies the first aspect of Nielsen's justification a revolutionary struggle that would employ terrorism is only a legitimate effort when it seeks to increase the total amount of good for all people. In his view, terrorism is neither inherently good nor bad, and its permissibility must be evaluated on a case by case basis (Jenkins, 2010).
Another consequentiality, philosopher Nicholas Fotion, argues that while terrorism may be justifiable under certain circumstances, such circumstances are extremely rare and that most if not all current terrorists develop their notion of a higher good with reference to ideology instead of to the established interests and preferences of actual people (Jenkins, 2010). Since the end to be achieved by terrorism tends to be abstractly good rather than manifestly good, it is unlikely to result in an increase of good in the world relative to suffering it generates. Fotion condemns terrorism, and finds that individual cases must meet a high burden of proof if terrorism is to be justifiable (Jenkins, 2010).
Deontology
According to deontological perspectives, terrorism tends to be considered morally wrong in itself, regardless of its consequences. Kant, for example, would be against terrorism because it involves using people as means to ends instead of respecting persons as ends in their own right (Jenkins, 2010). The suicide bomber uses himself as a means to an end, and additionally invokes Kant's arguments against suicide. The killing of innocents is in violation of Kant's categorical imperative because it does not survive scrutiny of his principles of universality, reversibility, or impartiality (Jenkins, 2010). The murder of innocents to achieve any end, political or otherwise, cannot be willed to be a universal law of nature without engendering a contradiction; to kill to assert one's right not to be killed leads immediately to paradox (Jenkins, 2010). Terrorism fails reversibility because no one would consent to be an innocent person killed to advance someone else's arms, and this obviates the fact that terrorism involves the using of innocents as means to ends. Terrorist acts are, further, not impartial as they are undertaken with the idea that some lives are more valuable than others (Jenkins, 2010). Nevertheless, one might invoke other deontological considerations involving rights or justice that may allow respect for personhood to be overridden if some duties realizable only through terrorism can be said to be more necessary than others (Jenkins, 2010). Such a view is advanced by Virginia Held of the City University of New York, who approaches the deontological issue of rights from the perspective of distributive justice (Jenkins, 2010).
Ontological
Both neo-realism and neo-liberalist would like to focus on their ontological and epistemological assumptions. This is because although both theories understand standards differently, this is only a surface difference; a deeper critique shows they make the same philosophical assumptions, opening them up to the same critique (Buchanan, 2003). Neo-realists focus on a-historical material forces. Seen most prominently in the work of Waltz, neo-realists take a structuralise approach focusing on how "anarchy" constraints and socializes states. The lack of a global leviathan with a monopoly of force means that international anarchy forces states to conduct "its affairs in the brooding shadow of violence" (Buchanan, 2003). Because some states may want to use force, other countries must also be willing to use force to protect their sovereignty. Despite their differences in their understanding of standards, both know actor identities and interests as given. States are egotistic, rational actors. It is material interests and material forces that underlie international relations (Buchanan, 2003).
Natural law According to Jenkins, "The natural law theory begins with assumptions about the nature and purpose of the world and moves on to ask about the purpose of every action or object. The right thing to do is that which fulfils the natural purpose(Buchanan, 2003)." Natural law was developed by Thomas Aquinas, in which he believed that there is such a thing as natural moral law. Natural law ethics depends on the belief that a creator, God designed the world. It teaches everything God made has a purpose, including every aspect of human life and everything should work towards the objective assigned to it (Buchanan, 2003). Natural law and natural rights follow from the nature of man and the world. We have the right to defend ourselves and our property, because of the kind of animals that we are. True law derives from this right, not from the arbitrary power of the omnipotent state (Buchanan, 2003). Through each of the different theories it is really bases on your ethical and moral beliefs on if you believe that torturing is okay for the greater good. Human rights are very important but within what I have learned that pain only can take place when it involves terrorists. In my eyes I do not know how to feel I do not want to say I support any type of pain but in the same since I do not want a repeat of 911.

References
Buchanan, P. (2003). The Case For Torture. Retrieved from http://www.theamericancause.org/patthecasefortorture.htm
Jenkins, D. (2010). Terrorism and Torture. Retrieved from http://danjenkins.strangiato.com/Montgomery/PL%20180%20Module%209%20Terroris m%20and%20Torture%20Audio%20Transcript%20and%20Lecture%20Notes%20(html) .htm
Lendman, S. (2008). Torture As Official US Policy. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/torture-as-official-us-policy/9610…...

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