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

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199540914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199540914.001.0001

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The Wider Moral Issue: Do Consequences or ‘No Go Areas’ Determine What is Ethical in an Extreme Situation?

The Wider Moral Issue: Do Consequences or ‘No Go Areas’ Determine What is Ethical in an Extreme Situation?

Chapter:
(p.10) 2 The Wider Moral Issue: Do Consequences or ‘No Go Areas’ Determine What is Ethical in an Extreme Situation?
Source:
Why Not Torture Terrorists?
Author(s):

Yuval Ginbar

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199540914.003.0002

This chapter addresses the wider issue that a moral agent facing a ticking bomb situation (TBS) should consider: whether ultimately a decision to torture the terrorist or not should be determined by consequences or by absolute moral prohibitions. First, the consequences of not torturing in the scenario and the planned terrorist attack occurring are described, illustrated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. Then the two prominent moral-philosophical views clashing over the morality of action, including in such extreme emergencies, are outlined: on the one hand consequentialism (or utilitarianism), advocated by the likes of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and determining the morality of actions by their consequences; on the other deontology, whose main advocate was Immanuel Kant, which emphasizes duties to oneself and others, and stipulates that certain types of acts must be prohibited absolutely (‘no-go areas’).

Keywords:   9/11 terrorist attacks, moral philosophy, morality, consequentialism/utilitarianism, deontology, absolutism, ticking bomb situation, torture, moral aspects, terrorism

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