Michael Levin presents us with a rather interesting argument. According to Mr. Levin torturing is permissible when millions of lives are in danger. He states, to be morally correct torturing a criminal or terrorist to get the necessary information, and is often the only way to help prevent more innocent lives from being in danger. He does in fact realize, that torture is somewhat brutal. In his essay he tries to give some examples as to when we might decide to use torture. His examples however, prove to be unconstitutional, unreliable. Therefore, torture as a means of justification is not acceptable. I believe that torture makes a huge whole in our constitution there for it’s wrong.
Justifying torture becomes impossible. Any way designed to justify its use is when certain assumptions are generally made. The bomber scenario described used in Levin’s essay is an excellent example. Do we or do we not torture the terrorist? In this instance, it seems that the life of one person can’t outweigh the lives of millions of people. Yet even in this extreme situation, consider what is assumed. First, one assumes that the bomb actually exists. Perhaps it does not—is there any irrefutable evidence to prove that it does? Without clear proof that lives are actually in danger, torture is an unjustifiable affront to the rights of the suspected terrorist.
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Secondly, it is assumed that we have the right person in custody. What if the authorities arrested the wrong person? Perhaps he’s confessed, but can one be sure the confession was genuine? Maybe he’s insane—or maybe he wants to give his group credit for the bombing—even at risk of his own torture and death.
Thirdly, one assumes that torture will lead to the disarmament of the bomb. This cannot be certain by any means; what if the terrorist cannot disarm the bomb? What if he does not know its location? What if he is resistant enough to torture so that, in the two hours before the explosion, no useful information can be gleaned? Practically, can one even hope to that a man ready to die for his believes is going to give up this information up?
In conclusion, I do not believe using torture is a viable mean. It is barbaric and unconstitutional, even if, someone may be coursed into using it to get what he or she wants. But in those cases I believe it is our own instinct that drives us and not our right state of mind. Torturing a person is unconstitutional but to understand why it is, just imagine being in their shoes.
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