Torture is the process through which individuals inflict mental or physical pain to manipulate or break the will of others. Various forms of torture have been used to coerce uncooperative individuals to divulge information or submit to preset conditions. However, regardless of the results, torture is morally unjustified because it goes against the preservation of basic human rights. This paper shall offer justifications as to why torture is morally wrong.
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Over the years, the use of torture has been debated extensively. In the interest of upholding the law and preserving human dignity, torture has been deemed as an unjustifiable course of action for legal and moral reasons. However, there are cases where torture is being used despite the presence of laws against the practice. Under extreme circumstances, torture is morally justified if it leads to the protection of human lives. When dealing with moral issues, various ethical theories have been utilized to judge the validity or wrongness of the actions taken (Johnston 90). When a nation faces the imminent danger, torturing uncooperative culprits may be justified if it leads to saving lives. This is in line with the utilitarianism theory, which states that the collective good of many people is more important than the rights of an individual. This means that torture is permissible if it safeguards the lives of many (Johnston 76). Since torture is perceived as a necessary evil in cases where lives are in danger, then it is morally justified.
Similarly, the consequentialism ethics theory holds that any action taken towards solving a problem is justified by the consequences it generates (Evans 201). With this in mind, torture is justifiable because it prevents the death of many people or provides information that can avert future crimes.
On the same note, the deontological ethics states that duty should be the determining factor for all moral actions regardless of the consequences. As such, more emphasis is placed on assumed duty rather than the consequences of the given actions (Forsythe 467). Regarding torture, this theory can be used to prove its use because a nation must protect its people from danger. On this note, if torture yields the expected results, then it is justified because the duty of the government is fulfilled regardless of the consequences of taking such actions (Hersh 58).
Over the past years, social, political, and ideological perspectives have significantly changed. As such, it is important to come up with stronger measures to tackle the vices that characterize modern society. At the end of the day, our denial of the fact that torture exists and is in most cases effective should not make it unjustifiable. To facilitate equality, torture should be allowed. Simply stating that torture is not morally justified does not make it so. Its effectiveness far outweighs its moral implications (Bowden 54).
This paper was set out to evaluate whether torture was morally justifiable. To that end, ethical theories have been used to support the notion that it is permissible in extreme circumstances. The increase in terrorism and kidnapping cases necessitates the use of torture as a means to an end. As such, societies should not be held hostage by moral convictions that lead to the loss of lives. The use of torture in averting the loss of lives is the right thing to do; therefore it is morally right.
Bowden, Mark. 2003. “The Dark Art of Interrogation.” The Atlantic (October): 51-76. Print.
Evans, Rebecca. The Ethics of Torture. New York: The New Press, 2005. Print.
Forsythe, David P. 2006. “United States Policy toward Enemy Detainees in the ‘War on Terrorism.’” Human Rights Quarterly, 28:2 (May): 465-491. Print.
Hersh, Seymour. 2004. “The Gray Zone. How a Secret Pentagon Program Came to Abu Ghraib.”The New Yorker. Web.
Johnston, George. An Introduction to Ethics, for Training Colleges. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009. Print.