Is torture ever acceptable?
According to the UN Convention Against Torture, any infliction of torture1 i.e. waterboarding is banned under international law and the domestic laws of most countries in the 21st century. The point of contention is whether torture under any circumstances should be entirely prohibited. This opinion piece will be centered towards the debate regarding interrogation using torture methods and argue that torture is never acceptable from the moral and utilitarian perspectives. Strong advocates of anti-torture laws will give you a straightforward answer, that torture should be banned because it’s immoral and impractical. It is unpleasant, insufferable and a clear violation of human rights. From the moral standpoint, no human should ever possess the right to degrade another human being for any cause. Conversely, from the utilitarian standpoint, the ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario has been used to argue that the urgent need for information triumphs the ethical argument against torture. Due to the existence of a terrorist threat i.e. a planted nuclear bomb, the means of torture can be employed for the ‘greater purpose’- to save tons of innocent lives that could otherwise be in danger. In that case, do the ends justify the means? It is hard to see how torturing a terrorist to gain a chance to save thousands of innocent others could be morally worse than refraining from torturing him and allowing him to murder thousands. Given the options at hand, it would be almost impossible to not choose the torture route. But how realistic is this situation indeed? I would even go as far to say that this ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario is a myth. The ‘ticking time bomb’ is a slippery slope argument, it uses the simplistic response of the highly unlikely scenario that distorts judgment and reasoning to justify the means of torture or even attempt to encourage the use of it as a ‘warrant’ in extreme circumstances. Let me paint the worst-case scenario. What happens...
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