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“The Case for Torture” by Michael Levin Essay

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Updated: Mar 31st, 2020

The Case for Torture written by Michael Levin aims to stress the significance of the evaluation of the question regarding torture. As the matter of fact, the ongoing debates concerning the issue seem never to be stopped. The issue is controversial as there are relevant arguments for and against tortures. The major aim of the paper is to investigate whether violence is an appropriate method of influence in the modern world.

The author of the article The Case for Torture notes that violence can and should be morally justified in some cases. According to Levin’s point of view, the constitution should be forgotten if it is made for the sake of the innocent people. The author provides the reader with an impressive example that questions the fact that torture is not the appropriate way to influence criminals. The philosopher gives the example where a terrorist intends to kill millions of people with the atomic bomb. In case, there is no time and the bomb will explode in a couple of hours, is it reasonable to wait for the lawyer, keep to the procedure, and let the innocent people die.

Furthermore, Levin moves on to the more realistic cases. The following examples deal with the kidnapping of newborns. According to the experiment, all mothers would be ready to apply violence in case they lost their babies. However, the author claims that torture should not be viewed as a punishment. It is more about deterring future evils. Capital punishment can also be compared to the anguish, as the pivotal objective is to deter criminals from committing severe crimes.

The next example provided by the author is concerned with the Second World War. This case aims to highlight what consequences could have been eliminated if Roosevelt had killed Hitler in 1943 (Schulz 277). Sacrificing dictatorship would have saved millions of lives and families. The primary goal of the modern world is to make everything possible to prevent the military conflict, as the war would be more serious and dramatic with the innovated weapon and technologies that society has nowadays.

It worth stating that the arguments of Michael Levin seem to be reasonable. The provided examples contribute to the better involvement into the issue. However, it should be stressed that the problem is multi-faceted and demands the analysis using different perspectives. First and foremost, discussion of torture requires understanding that every person has individual rights, and that is, acknowledging such method of influence will contradict the personal rights.

The next weakness of the argument is that human tends to make mistakes. Misconduct or lack of evidence can be the reason for torturing the wrong person. However, it should be pointed out that authorities can almost never be sure for a hundred percent that the person is guilty. In the case of making a mistake the question arises, is there any difference between the terrorist and the authorities?

I do not profess to be an expert regarding the subject, but I am strongly convinced that there are different approaches that can be used in tackling the problems of criminality and terrorism. Violence will provoke violence in response. Moreover, terrorism is not necessarily inequitable. Nelson Mandela, a famous freedom fighter, was believed to be a terrorist in South Africa (Broun 52). The fundamental problem is that society has created moral standards; however, rules may change depending on time or country. Although Nelson Mandela is not the terrorist in the meaning of the word that Levin has discussed, it should be stressed that torture will not be a beneficial solution to the problem, as terrorists tend to lie.

The case with Abu Zubaydah proves that some terrorists have nothing to do with morality and lie even when they are tortured (Heit 167). Making torture appropriate the level of tolerance will likely decrease as the pain becomes acceptable. Moreover, it will affect the respect to the authorities in a negative way. In addition, terrorists will look more innocent in comparison to those who use violence.

Although Levin’s point of view is relevant, I would like to make an accent that the theory contains some evident drawbacks. The fact that innocent person can be tortured proves that it is not the right way to obtain information or influence the terrorists. The innocent people can suffer because of misconduct, and the psychological trauma will be so deep that it will affect the future life of the individual in a dramatic way. Moreover, causing pain and violence can deter, however, according to the recent findings it is not the rule. Some criminals who feel injustice commit more severe crimes despite the fact they can be sentenced to death.

Furthermore, society will face another problem, namely the lack of respect towards police and authorities. Normalizing violent actions can have unpredictable consequences for the humanity. The issue depends on another problem, who will determine the degree of torture and for what actions it may be applied? Violence is the easiest way of tackling the problem. Nevertheless, using the same methods as malefactors do will make us similar. There are other more efficient ways of getting the needed information. As the matter of fact, the human is a part of society, silence is considered to be the biggest enemy.

Asking the question and keep silence for hours may contribute to the process better than making pain. Treating other people respectively is another key point (Allhoff 159). According to the recent researches, one of the most effective method of discovering the truth is hypnosis. The enumerated methods are only some alternatives to torture, with an impressive advance in the sphere of technology and psychology people can achieve more than keeping to ancient savage approaches.

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the question regarding the significance of the implementation of torture as an influence on the criminals and terrorists seems to be controversial and demands the solution. Arguments presented by Levin seem to be reasonable. Moreover, the provided examples highlight that there are some cases where torture seems to be the only option. However, taking into consideration the opposing position, I would like to stress that such methods of influence cannot be appropriate for the modern society as it will decrease the level of tolerance, respect towards police and authorities, in case of mistake an innocent person can suffer, and, in addition, even if torture were applied, the terrorist would lie. In the regards with the stated above arguments, I would like to highlight that it is better to find other stimuli to fight terrorism and criminality than to continue the cycle of violence.

Works Cited

Allhoff, Fritz. Terrorism, Ticking Time-bombs, and Torture: A Philosophical Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2012. Print.

Broun, Kenneth S. Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.

Heit, Jamey. Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Evil in Popular Media. Jefferson: McFarland, 2011. Print.

Schulz, William. The Phenomenon of Torture: Readings and Commentary. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2007. Print.

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