Ethics Of Torture Essay

1408 words - 6 pages

Torture is permissible?
Torture is an unorthodox method that has been used often during the war, and it is a controversial subject about whether torture is permissible or not since 911 (“Counterterrorism Since 9/11: Evaluating the Efficacy of Controversial Tactics”). The exercise of torture tends to begin with acquiring information to prevent opponents to start the attack, and there are many critics that believe that torture is permissible at least during extreme situations (“Torture and the Necessity Doctrine”). According to a BCC survey of views on torturing prisoners in October 2006, more than one out of three people in nine countries considered that torture is somewhat permissible if it can save lives (“Is torture ever justified?”). Moreover, two ethical theories have been used under the debate of whether torture is right or wrong: deontology and utilitarianism (“Torture and the Necessity Doctrine”). In this paper, I will prove that Kantian theory does offer a compelling argument to prove the use of torture, in that Bentham and Mill agree that torture is permissible during certain situations.
Utilitarianism is a theory based on utilizing moral rules to measure the amount of happiness and unhappiness in order to decide whether the action is considered good or bad (Birsch 77). According to Birsch, Jeremy Bentham is a philosopher that focuses his ethical theory on act utilitarianism, and he believes that good actions are when the amount of pleasure is more than the amount of pain that is affected by others (Birsch 77). In addition, Mill believes that it is ethical to have a bad intention of doing certain things with good consequences, but it is unethical to have good intentions with bad consequences (Ethics Lecture on February 18 2014). I do not agree with utilitarianism because I think it is unethical to torture terrorists. It is important to save others lives, but the government can use alternate methods to obtain the information. I think it is unethical to hurt others just to accomplish goals, even if the outcome is positive.
Torture is acceptable when utilizing utilitarianism to defend the argument, because torture generates the most amount of pleasure than pain when used under certain situations. In addition, torturing a terrorist to acquire useful information to save hundreds of people’s lives is considered ethical because the consequences are good. Torturing another person who has no blood relationship is unethical because it is not right to hurt others. However, it is ethical when torturing one person to save hundreds of people, even though the action itself has a bad intention.
On the other hand, Kant believes that we should act on duty based on the moral laws or the moral rules (Birsch 104). In other words, Kant believes that every moral agent is obligated to follow moral rules and laws because it is a required duty. He also believes the requirements to decide whether an action is good or bad is based on the duty of the person, and...

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