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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 Minimal Absolutist Approach I: Anti-absolutism as Morally Untenable

The Minimal Absolutist Approach I: Anti-absolutism as Morally Untenable

Chapter:
(p.30) 4 The Minimal Absolutist Approach I: Anti-absolutism as Morally Untenable
Source:
Why Not Torture Terrorists?
Author(s):

Yuval Ginbar

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199540914.003.0004

This chapter outlines the author's minimal absolutist view, a ‘bare-boned’ moral view that certain acts must be prohibited absolutely, i.e., must never be performed, whatever the consequences. Reviewing questionable candidate acts for such prohibition, including lying and killing, and explaining the ‘slippery surface‘ method of logically testing the scope of moral views, the chapter then argues that the opposing view — anti-absolutism — cannot logically allow the prohibition of any act, however horrendous. Thus, it must allow torturing babies to death for fun if this would save thousands of other babies. Two real-life examples of minimal absolutism are provided: the prohibition of cruel death penalty in the West and the universal rejection of experiments on humans without informed consent, even if, used to develop a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, it would save millions of lives. It is concluded that anti-absolutism must justify atrocities, including terrorism, and is morally corrupting and enslaving.

Keywords:   moral philosophy, minimal absolutism, death penalty, deontology, morality, consequentialism/utilitarianism, torture, moral aspects, medical ethics, HIV/AIDS

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