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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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Part I—Conclusions

Part I—Conclusions

Chapter:
(p.89) 6 Part I—Conclusions
Source:
Why Not Torture Terrorists?
Author(s):

Yuval Ginbar

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199540914.003.0006

This chapter concludes the discussion of the ticking bomb question as a one of pure individual morality. For the purpose of defending an absolute prohibition on torture a minimal absolutist position, rather than a wider moral theory, is sufficient. The overwhelming strength of the ‘numbers’ in the torture-justifying argument is also its moral downfall, among other things because it must allow the torture of the innocent, making each of us, potentially, a victim of torture — as well as a torturer. The qualities of character needed for one person to inflict unimaginable cruelty upon another cannot sit easily with our concept of a good character. A torture-justifier would indeed commit atrocities, where necessary, to save us, but only if we belong to a large enough number of potential victims. The minimal absolutist, in contrast, would always do anything humanly possible to save innocent lives.

Keywords:   moral philosophy, morality, consequentialism/utilitarianism, deontology, ticking bomb situation, torture, moral issues, terrorism prevention, moral agent

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