Case study: The Terrorist and the Ticking Bomb: Ethical Leadership in Supreme Emergencies
The Terrorist and the Ticking Bomb: Ethical Leadership in Supreme Emergencies This week’s case study; the terrorist and the ticking bomb: ethical leadership in supreme emergencies brings out some very complex ethical considerations. More specifically the concept of the “supreme emergency” referred to generally as “situations where, many argue, normal rules should be set aside for extreme measures” (Johnson 2012, pg. 414). Illustrating this concept extended to its fullest measure, the “ticking bomb scenario asks the question: If a person believed to have planted a bomb with the potential to kill many people is in custody; time is short; and the person refuses to divulge the specifics of the bomb; would this be considered grounds for extreme measures (such as torture) in attempt to force him/her to reveal the location of the bomb, potentially saving other human lives? This scenario and question came to the forefront of the thoughts of American leaders and policy makers after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Before those attacks, and based on a long history of holding sacrosanct the rights of the individual, the answer for most American leaders would have been overwhelmingly negative. In light of that attack however, circumstances have changed and asked that same question today many would now answer yes. In fact some observers now argue that “torture has become a core tactic in the war on terror” (Jackson 2007, pg. 354). For others the answer remains that such a scenario doesn’t warrant the violation of the basic ethical standards that Americans generally espouse (Dasgupta 2010, pg. 552). Compelling arguments can and have been made on both sides of this issue. On the “yes” side of the argument are those that would say that torture is generally not acceptable except in such extreme circumstances as the ticking bomb scenario; at...
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