Torture and Ethics.
Torture and Ethics Bradley Sexton April 13, 2013 University of Phoenix AJS 512 Dr. Miron Gilbert Torture and Ethics The torturing of human life always has been and always will be unethical, immoral, unjust, and wrong. Torturing enemy combatants or high-value targets does violate standards of morality in the free world. In addition to violating international laws against such practices, torture violates every basic human right. Torture is a form of cruel and unusual punishment by any standard regardless of the end result.
Torture of one individual is only justifiable by saving the lives of the many, but that does not make it moral or right. The only ethical theory that justifies torture as moral acceptable is the utilitarianism view. This view should remain in the dark ages where it belongs because it is not an example of the moral standards that exit today. For some people, the thought of torturing one person to save the lives of many sounds like the right idea. The problem with torture is the end result is not guaranteed. Under extreme measures people will say whatever it takes to stop the pain.
Torturing lowers the moral standards of the people performing the act to the same standards they are fighting against. In the long run this only fuels the enemy’s commitment to their cause and makes them stronger. An enemy combatant who is considering volunteering information will not come forward if he or she thinks there is a possibility of torture on the other side. Although it is true that other countries have already used torture on American people, future prisoners of war may receive even worse treatment if the enemy knows their prisoners are undergoing torture.
The use of cruel and unusual punishment during interrogation violates human rights and makes any evidence obtained unusable in a court of law. The government and the criminal justice system must observe and follow the same laws they expect society to follow. Laws apply to everyone equally in American society (Evans, 2007). Reasoning, deceiving, and bribing the suspect with rewards will produce more accurate results than torture. The victim of torture under a state of duress and pain may not even think clearly enough to speak the truth.
He or she might even think their own lies are truth. Often only the threat of torture against the suspect or their family is enough to convince them to cooperate. The technology available in the modern world makes torture obsolete and unnecessary. The government can easily put together enough proof to make the suspect think he or she is about to undergo torture, or think someone they care about is in custody. Police agencies use deceitful tactics all the time to cause a suspect to make mistakes or tell the truth without resorting to immoral or unethical acts of violence.
The results prove to be more accurate than torture and do no harm to the suspect. Considering torture only as a last resort after all other attempts fail is up to the people in charge of the interrogation in compliance with the law. Regardless of the outcome the actual act of torture is always morally and ethically wrong. Ontological View Torture is not justified under the ontological theory of ethics because it is wrong to cause harm regardless of the consequences. Freewill allows people to make their own decisions about right and wrong and sharing of information.
Forcing people against their will to tell the truth or lie is morally wrong under the ontological view. Although even under this view, knowing it is wrong to do so will not stop some people from torturing another if the ends justify the means in their eyes. A father may well be within his right to torture the suspect who kidnapped his child. This does not make the act morally or ethically right for the father but may lead to the safe recovery of his offspring. Society would not hold anything against such an act under the circumstances (Himma, 2009). Deontological View
Torture is not justified under the deontological view because the consequences of the actions do not matter. Society considers torture ethically and morally wrong so the deontological view of torture is also wrong regardless of end result. Deontological ethics state that people should always follow their obligations and duty to society. In the case of torture a person’s duty and obligation is to uphold the rights of the suspect. Even if the end result saves the lives of thousands of other people torture is still unethical and immoral. This does not stop many governments from performing the act of torture.
In any given situation in which many lives are at stake a government will resort to anything that reduces the risks and saves the lives of the many. When human life is at stake, morality, and ethics tend to take a back seat to humanity for all (Souryal, 2007). Utilitarianism View Torture is justified under the utilitarianism view because pleasure for the majority outweighs the pain of the few. Utilitarianism sees pleasure for the most people as justice regardless of the pain this may cause a few people. Torturing enemy combatants and high value targets does not violate standards of morality under the utilitarianism view.
Whether this act violates basic human rights is not a concern for utilitarianism as long as it results in happiness for the majority. The problem with this view is that it opens the door to other immoral acts. If torture continues until the suspect is dead without gaining any knowledge that could provide happiness, then the act is immoral. Many innocent people could face torture leading to no results and utilitarianism becomes immoral. Under this justification using humans as guinea pigs for the happiness of the majority is also moral.
Causing cruel and unusual punishment for prisoners is moral if the acts deter future crimes. Genocide is moral if the minority population is interfering with the happiness of the majority (Driver, 2009). Natural Law View Torture is not justified under natural law because the basis of right and wrong is on the act itself not the results. Causing harm to another human for any reason is immoral and wrong under natural law. Humans have moral standards that prevent them from acting like animals in that they do not harm another person to survive. The strongest find another way to survive without harming others.
Humans help their fellow man live rather than taking advantage of them. Everyone has equal rights to freedom from persecution in any manner. Even the worst criminals who are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt are free from cruel and unusual punishment. Although this right is granted in the United States Constitution, it began as a natural law. Under natural law the use of any type of physical or mental pain to seek information or the truth is a form of torture and is ethically wrong. Although society may agree with harsh sentences for prisoners, they do not cross the line to unusual punishment (PSU, 2007).
Conclusion Even during times of war against another country the standards of morality in America should not to heed to same immoral acts the enemy has. The moral and ethical standards in America are higher than anywhere else in the world. Torture of any type is never a good idea and rarely produces effects great enough for the ends to justify the means. Any country that condones torture of their enemies eventually will use torture against their own citizens if it fits their agenda. Out of four ethical theories only utilitarianism views the act of torture as justice.
In America the utilitarianism view is not the normal view of society in general. Torturing enemy combatants or high value targets does violate the standards of morality in America. Torturing should never be given legal status as there are always other options to choose from that do not violate human rights, ethics, or morality. References Driver, J (2009) “The History of Utilitarianism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Edward N. Zalta (ed. ), URL = <http://plato. stanford. edu/archives/sum2009/entries/utilitarianism-history/>.
Himma Kenneth (2009) Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Philosophy of Law Retrieved on 4-14-2013 from http://www. iep. utm. edu/law-phil/ PSU (2007) Ethics in Criminal Justice components of justice retrieved on 3-31-2013 from https://courses. worldcampus. psu. edu/welcome/crimj465/moral_05. html Souryal, S. (2007) Ethics in criminal justice: In search of the truth (4th ed. ). Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Pub. /LexisNexis. Evans, R (2007) The Ethics of Torture, Human Rights and Human Welfare. Retrieved on 4-13-2013 from http://www. du. edu/korbel/hrhw/volumes/2007/evans-2007. pdf
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