Moral Permissibility of Torture

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To most, torture is seen as action with a single definition that defines it, but in fact there are different types of torture that Henry Shue discusses in one of his articles. According to Shue there are rare conditions under which torture could be morally justified, but he does not endorse neither the interrogational torture not the terroristic torture. Although Shue agrees with illegality and morally wrongness of torture, he explains how one may go about defending torture and how it could possibly be morally justified. Henry Shue begins his article discussing torture with constraints which allows the victim to “surrender” and comply with the demands of the torturer. According to the Constraint of Possible Compliance (CPC), “the victim of torture must have available an act of compliance which, if performed, will end the torture” (Shue 427). With the aim of interrogational torture being to extract information from a person with holding it, this torture appears to satisfy the constraint of possible compliance, since it offers an escape, in the form of providing the information wanted by the torturers, which affords some protection against further assault. In practice there are evidently only a few pure cases of interrogational torture. For the most dominant type of torture that occurs today is considered to be terroristic. Terroristic torture is meant to put fear in not only the victim, but also all those who oppose that government. The victim’s suffering is being used as a means to end over which the victim has no control over. Terroristic torture cannot satisfy the constraint of possible compliance because its purpose, intimidation of persons other than the victim of the torture, cannot be accomplished and may not even be capable of being influenced by the victim of the torture. If terroristic torture were actually to be justified, the conditions would of course have to be met. The first condition Shue defines is the purpose being sought...
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