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Essay on Torture

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❶If, Rodin observes, one thinks of the Quinean image of a web of belief such that beliefs near the centre of the web can be changed only if substantial portions of surrounding beliefs are also changed, the absolute prohibition on torture serves as one of those key central beliefs. Torturing a person is unconstitutional but to understand why it is, just imagine being in their shoes.

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In the United States, for example, it is guaranteed by the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. However, accepting torture as, for example, a method of interrogation, means citizens can no longer feel safe if they have to deal with justice, even and especially if they are innocent. In this case, an investigative error and the following suspicion of an innocent person can result into the application of severe psychological and physical damage to this individual before their innocence becomes evident.

Examples are numerous, but they illustrate one fact: Torture in the modern world is a relic of the distant past. Though there are many proponents, claiming that torture is acceptable in a number of certain cases—such as against terrorists or maniacs—I believe they should not be tolerated due to several reasons.

The country that approves torture also risks to lose the trust of its citizens in itself and its judicial system. In addition, torture that is officially approved at least once tends to become a regular practice. Is English your native language? What is your profession? Student Teacher Writer Other. If law is forceful or coercive, it gets its way by nonbrutal methods which respect rather than mutilate the dignity and agency of those who are its subjects.

The legal prohibition against torture, besides its importance in its own right, serves as an archetype of the policy that legal force is not brutal or savage.

The prohibition against torture has kind of iconic significance as a symbolic anchor of the intransgressible requirement that law respect dignity by avoiding brutality. Legal archetypes do foreground work as rules or precedents, but in doing that work they sum up the spirit of a whole body of law that goes beyond what they might be thought to require on their own terms.

The idea of an archetype, then, is the idea of a rule or positive law provision that operates not just on its own account …but….

The maintenance of the prohibition on torture may in fact have been the vital protection of a crucial anchor for the general rule of law, which is now shakier in America than it was in McKeown , R. The arguments made by Waldron and Luban in are strongly complementary. Luban, as we saw earlier, focused in on the evil of state tyranny; Waldron focused at the same time on the evil of state brutality. A government that uses torture is both tyrannical and brutal: An absolute prohibition on torture is a wall against brutal state tyranny, a wall that, as Waldron emphasizes with the idea of a legal archetype, is also part of the larger structure of the rule of law.

The rule of law is protection against tyranny and brutality. David Rodin has suggested that the absolute moral prohibition on torture may play an archetypical role within our system of moral norms somewhat analogous to the archetypical role of the absolute legal prohibition Rodin forthcoming.

If, Rodin observes, one thinks of the Quinean image of a web of belief such that beliefs near the centre of the web can be changed only if substantial portions of surrounding beliefs are also changed, the absolute prohibition on torture serves as one of those key central beliefs. My version of this would be that, as Waldron says of the legal case, the absolute moral prohibition is vital in its own right but is also a symbol of the fundamental point that morality demands limits.

A person who will stop at nothing is a person without morality. That no one may ever torture is both an instantiation of a firm moral limit and a radiant emblem of intransgressible moral limitation. A basic right in my sense directly protects one vital interest but in doing so it also blocks a standard threat to other vital interests. If I know that if I go to the square and say what I think, I will be whisked away by government agents and tortured in order to find out who my friends are and what I read, the threatened assault against my psychological stability is also a coercive threat against my free speech.

A right that protects me against tor-hire, partially protects my free speech as well as my mental balance. In this respect this right helps to anchor other rights.

Rodin forthcoming makes the significant additional point, however, that one can embrace an absolute prohibition against torture even if one does not believe that the right not to be tortured is absolute: Suppose, for example, that just as many people believe that the right not to be killed is not absolute and that one can forfeit it in at least some cases by killing someone else, the right not to be tortured aught also be thought not absolute and one could forfeit it by, say, torturing others.

Suppose, that is, that one believed that torturing a torturer is not a violation of any right. Because they have forfeited that right, we are assuming for the sake of argument, we would not wrong them by torturing them especially, perhaps, if in accord with the usual narrative of the ticking-bomb scenario, we might possibly thereby obtain the information that would enable us to destroy a secret.

Even so, Rodin points out, one might still judge that although it would not wrong the guilty torturer, it would still be wrong — perhaps disastrously wrong — to engage in the torture because it is supremely important to maintain the moral firewall against torture.

The function of the absolute moral prohibition against torture as an archetype of the fact that there are some activities in which civilized people do not engage is too important to allow a breach of the prohibition even if the degree of the wrongfulness of torturing the person in question were not reason enough in itself.

One is tempted to ask: But, someone is bound to ask, is all this not too confident? Is it not conceivable that if we never torture anyone, we will sonic day pay a terrible price because we will fail to obtain the only information that would have enabled us to avoid a catastrophe: This is of course simply one more variant of the ticking-bomb scenario: Yes, if it is conceivable that if we torture enough people, we will find out something very important, then if we torture no one, we may not find it out, arid we may suffer the consequences.

Of course, there are all the usual questions about ticking bombs, such as whether we are simply to assume that our intelligence agencies — which did not foresee even monumental developments like the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Arab Spring, for example — are so good that they immediately have the person who knows most, or, if they have to blunder their way through a sequence of torture victims, each of whom leads them to the next, they will have time to reach the end of the trail.

But 1 want to underline two quite different considerations. First, we have no empirical basis on which to believe that interrogational torture is the most effective form of interrogation Kleinman If we torture no one, we may not find out something important — unless we have a better method than torture for finding it out! Space here does not allow a thorough discussion of issues about effectiveness, and I obviously do not believe that torture would be justified if it were effective.

But it surely could be justified only if it were the most effective alternative, given how wrong everyone on all sides admits torture is.

A priori it is difficult to understand how the CIA paradigm in particular can be a good method of gathering accurate information.

The person whose personality structure is undermined and who is made to regress to an infantile state of wanting to please certainly will be inclined to give the interrogator what the torture victim thinks the interrogator wants. But is this a reliable method of quickly gathering accurate information? It partly depends on how often a person tortured simply does not have the information that he thinks the interrogator wants; in those cases the victim is likely to manufacture something in order to try to please the interrogator.

Amery, under SS torture, tried hard to comply but could not because, like any member of a moderately well-run underground, he had been allowed to know only the aliases of his colleagues:. What they wanted to hear from me in Breendonk [Prison], 1 simply did not know myself. If instead of the aliases I had been able to name the real names, perhaps, or probably, a calamity would have occurred, and I would be standing here now as the weakling I most likely am, and as the traitor I potentially already was.

Yet it was not at all that I opposed them with the heroically maintained silence that befits a real man in such a situation … I talked. And even if torture does obtain correct information at some stage, it may well be less efficient than other approaches to interrogation. This is certainly the view of a number of experienced American interrogators. Alexander gives his prisoners the opposite treatment: So, is Alexander interrogating with kindness?

He pretends, and tricks, and lies to his prisoners, treating them in ways that in almost any other circumstances would be clearly immoral:. The best interrogators are outstanding actors.

Once they hit that booth, their personalities are transformed. They … allow a doppelganger to emerge. What doppelganger is most likely to elicit information from a detainee changes from prisoner to prisoner. Sometimes I must have a wife or children so I can swap stories with the prisoner, though I have neither.

The interrogation that Alexander practises does not make a pretty picture. He coercively manipulates his prisoners. They are not treated as ends: Some people will certainly feel that it is morally wrong ever to treat people like this.

But it is not torture. What if he is resistant enough to torture so that, in the two hours before the explosion, no useful information can be gleaned? Practically, can one even hope to that a man ready to die for his believes is going to give up this information up?

In conclusion, I do not believe using torture is a viable mean. It is barbaric and unconstitutional, even if, someone may be coursed into using it to get what he or she wants. But in those cases I believe it is our own instinct that drives us and not our right state of mind.

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Torture has been considered an art form in some countries. Victor Hugo once said, "The guillotine is the ultimate expression of law, and its name is vengeance." The executioner, in the theater of the guillotine, has a very special role.

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by HENRY SHUE THE PRACTICE. Torture has torn through additional restraints since I first tried to get a grip on it (Shue ). Then I began by apologizing for raising an issue that I thought most Americans considered closed. The Morality of Torture Essay - Torture is a controversial topic in today’s society. What is torture. Torture can be defined as, ‘the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.’(Dershowitz, A) According to international law, it is illegal to use torture in any situation of any kind.