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Why Not Torture Terrorists?
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Why Not Torture Terrorists?: Moral, Practical, and Legal Aspects of the "Ticking Bomb" Justification for Torture

Yuval Ginbar

Abstract

The book addresses a dilemma at the heart of the ‘War on Terror’: Is it ever justifiable to torture terrorists in order to save the lives of innocent civilians in a ‘ticking bomb situation’ (TBS)? The book first analyzes the ticking bomb dilemma as a pure moral one, facing the individual would-be torturer. A ‘never-say-never’ utilitarian position is pitted against a ‘minimal absolutist’ view that some acts are never justifiable, and that torture is one such act. It then looks at the issues that arise once a state has decided to sanction torture in extreme situations, including when, how, and w ... More

Keywords: torture, moral aspects, legal aspects, minimal absolutism, terrorism prevention, war on terror, ticking bomb situation, international law, human rights

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780199540914
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199540914.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Yuval Ginbar, author
Legal Adviser, Amnesty International

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Contents

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PART I PRIVATE MORALITY: IS IT MORALLY JUSTIFIABLE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL TO TORTURE A TERRORIST IN ORDER TO SAVE MANY INNOCENT LIVES?

PART II PUBLIC, PRACTICAL MORALITY: IS IT MORALLY JUSTIFIABLE FOR A STATE TO TORTURE IN ORDER TO SAVE MANY INNOCENT LIVES?

PART III LEGALIZING TORTURE 1—FOUR MODELS

PART IV LEGALIZING TORTURE 2—THREE ISSUES

PART V CONCLUSIONS