I have an interesting question for today. Are there ever situations where torture can be justified?

16 responses to “Torture”

  1. I want to say no, but if someone had information that would save lives and torture was the only way to obtain the info; then so be it. The good of the many out ways the good of the few or the one…

  2. The traditional exception most people make is the “ticking bomb” scenario, where you know for certain that a bad guy has planted a bomb with a timer somewhere in the city and it’s likely to kill hundreds or thousands of people. Many people believe that if you’ve captured the bad guy, torture would be acceptable in such a circumstance, to save the many people’s lives.

    The argument against this theory is sometimes seen as one of a “slippery slope,” but that I don’t believe is so easily dismissed. Drawing the line outside the immediate ticking bomb becomes very difficult. What if you’re 99% certain that this is the guy who planted the bomb? How about 75% certain? 30%? 1%? What if you know the bomb is set to go of in five days, when can you torture him? What if you know this guy didn’t do it, but you’re pretty sure he knows where the guy is who did plant it? What if he only happens to belong to the 30-person organization that planted it, but you think he probably knows something about the guy who did it? Does it matter if this guy-who-knows-the-guy has a record, or maybe he checked out a book on bombs from the library? Does it matter if he has a family, a wife and five kids who depend on him, and that your torture could kill or mentally destroy him?

    And most importantly, who do we trust to make this decision? When it comes to enforcement of the law we have a pretty clear system with those who arrest, those who accuse, and those who judge, but in the ticking bomb scenario, what kind of person can we trust to make an essential and on-the-spot decision?

    Would I personally torture someone who had my family’s life in his hands? Quite possibly, I have to admit. Even the lives of a bunch of strangers. But would I be willing to authorize someone to torture on society’s behalf? No, I don’t believe that I would.

    It sure is a tough question, though.

  3. While i think i could emotionally say yes. I think that I believe no. That the price you would pay to be wrong is absolutely not worth it.

    Watch LOST people! Season one. That explains it all.

  4. How about ‘is torture the most effective way of getting a response’. Take it to the animal testing realm, and the belief these days is that technology should provide better answers than age old torture of animals – which really makes invalidates your question. As for torture on humans, psychology is a funny thing and although these days we never hear much about the success of non violent means in extrememly violent situations, there are many cases int he world that show the best way to get results is psychological games, not physical harm. I’m no expert, but I wonder if we are trained to ask the wrong questions? ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Torture is definately OK. It really depends what kind of torture you’re talking about though.

    If someone is holding out on you, you may say, “Tell me, you’re torturing me”. In which case the torture is not painful and is not really torture in the sense of the word.

    Otherwise physical or mental torture can be fun and rewarding, for both the torturer and torturee.

    A prime example of this would be not allowing your girlfriend or equivalent partner to sleep throughout the night. This benefits the torturer (you) in the way that you have someone to spend time with during the night. It also benefits the torturee (girlfriend) because they don’t waste 1/3 of their life sleeping.

    Another great example would be to make loud abnoxious squealing noises, once again at your partner, in random repetitive bursts. This is torture at it’s finest. Before long they will be screaming back for you to stop, however you don’t stop as this would not be considered torture and would just be an annoyance. This benefits the torturer because they are able to let out any frustration that has built up. This also benefits the torturee because inadvertently due to the fact that you made them scream, they have now also released their built up frustration.

    So as you can see torture is a wierd and wonderful thing that i think we should all integrate into everyday life.


  6. That depends on what type of toruture. If it is psychological or emotional torture, well, it can be justified. Especially if the person so so deserves it.

  7. People under torture will say, and admit to anything, in order for it to stop. So is it worth the effort when only 1/100 or 1/10 actually gives useful or factual information?

    Especially if the person to be tortured is doing what they’re doing for personal/religious/political reasons, or has certain types of military training. They’re likely to hold out longer, mixing truth with lies, to the point you can’t decipher which is which.

    In the end, it’s a poor method of gaining information, and could really be a huge waste of time…

  8. About the “Ticking Bomb” scenario: this assumes that the collective lives of humans are (apparently) worth more then the individual life of one human. Can we really have the audacity to draw that line and say it’s better to save a lot of people while ruining someone else’s emotional / mental / physical health in the process? Pragmatically and economically you could justify it, but human souls are not the same as numbers. In the end, you are still consciously and intentionally hurting a fellow human. I’m thinking that’s wrong no matter the circumstances.

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