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Torture and Ethics
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5822

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:28 pm    Post subject: Torture and Ethics Reply with quote

Mrgybe seems to be ignoring the spiritual guidance of his Pope. Here's a similar perspective from another expert in religion:

Quote:

By Robert A. Rees, guest commentary © 2014 Bay Area News Group
POSTED: 12/19/2014 04:00:00 PM PST0 COMMENTS
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

-- Jesus (Matt 7:12)

"There is nothing that one man will not do to another."

-- Carolyn Forche, "The Country Between Us"

The Golden Rule is held in common by all of the world's major religions. In its various formulations it calls for us to imaginatively and empathetically place ourselves in the minds and hearts of others, to see what they see and feel what they feel and to wish for them what we would wish for ourselves were we in their place.

Whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Buddhist, the principle ultimately calls us to a higher standard of moral behavior, one that runs counter to our natural self-serving inclinations.

While the Golden Rule has its detractors, including those who feel it is simply impractical in the modern world, rightly understood, it has universal appeal as a standard for right behavior and may be even more so in a world of both colossal evil and increasing moral relativity.

Since the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released its report on the United States' practice of torture, I have considered how the Golden Rule might apply to our treatment of those captured in the war on terror.

A number of those involved in the CIA program after 9/11 have been particularly eager to defend the policies and practices of prisoner interrogation, but one questions whether, if they tried to put themselves in the place of the tortured, they would defend activities that offend the nation's highest standards of decency, that run counter to our accepted principles of human ethics.

I came of age during Word War II. Even as a boy, I knew details of the barbaric treatment our soldiers suffered at the hands the Germans and Japanese. Such treatment was horrifying for a child to contemplate.

Scarcely less horrifying for an adult to contemplate are the following examples of CIA torture:

The waterboarding of one prisoner 183 times. The fear and horror of just one such episode of simulated drowning is difficult to imagine. And, 183 is so far beyond the pale as to be nearly impossible to comprehend. At a certain point such treatment seems motivated more by sadism than any attempt to elicit information.
Rectal feeding and hydration of at least five detainees. What kind of madness even invents such torture?
Threats to harm the families of detainees, including threatening to cut the throat of one detainee's mother.
The confinement of Abu Zubaida inside a coffin-like container for 266 hours. That's more than 11 days! As someone who suffers from claustrophobia, I have difficulty imagining such confinement for even one hour. We are told that Zubaida "cried, begged, pleaded and whimpered" during his ordeal.
Abu Hudhaifa, was forced to stand for 66 hours (nearly three days) while given periodic "ice water baths."
The defense of such tactics by CIA directors, lawyers, psychologists, former attorneys general, and former Vice President Dick Cheney all strike me as having a stark disregard for or indifference to the Golden Rule.

This is particularly true of Cheney, whose responses to Chuck Todd's questions and challenges on "Meet the Press" were not just callous and chilling but deeply disturbing. Cheney defended the rectal feeding as "done for medical reasons," which is absolutely untrue (and what about the Hippocratic oath of the physicians who ostensibly approved and oversaw such tactics?).

When told that 25 percent of those subject to harsh CIA interrogation techniques turned out to have been innocent and misidentified as terrorists, Cheney responded, "I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective." When challenged, he said he would "do it again in a minute."

What the Golden Rule demands is stark honesty as to how we would feel were we or a loved one placed in the position of the other, in this case not only those subjected to depraved types of torture but the large number of innocents tortured without cause.

Ultimately, the Golden Rule comes down this: "Treat others as if you were the others." Could Cheney imagine himself or his wife or daughter waterboarded 183 times, subjected to forced rectal feeding and hydration, or confined to a coffin-like box for eleven days?

Would his imagination allow him to contemplate how he would have felt suffering such torture if he or a family member had been innocent? Would he truly feel that his torturers would be justified in repeating such torture "in a minute?"

That ability -- to imaginatively put ourselves in the physical and emotional experience of a fellow human being is the ultimate challenge of our humanity, that which should separate us from barbarians -- and torturers.

Robert A. Rees, Ph.D, teaches religious studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley

.


Make no more claims to have any spiritual path that I would ever be interested in following. Just cop to being revengeful sadists.
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techno900



Joined: 28 Mar 2001
Posts: 1647

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A quote on mac's post:
Quote:
Ultimately, the Golden Rule comes down this: "Treat others as if you were the others."

After 911, I think we came up well short of treating others as they had treated us.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5822

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This captures it well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XljAf3BMfXg
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 15020

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if any of these people hollering "TORTURE" a) know what actually occurred as opposed to just hearing BSNBC whine about it or b) even bothered to respond on topic the many times I've challenged them to say what they'd do if they caught a member of a gang which had just kidnapped their child with intent to kill it in 30 minutes.

Until I see evidence of both, it's just left wing noise.
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nw30



Joined: 21 Dec 2008
Posts: 2027
Location: The eye of the universe, Cen. Cal. coast

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seeing how mac is on a roll with new hit piece threads today, maybe somebody should start a new thread titled "mac 'n mud".

It makes me think that mac is really worried about something, what, did his wife switch to the GOP or something?

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rigitrite



Joined: 19 Sep 2007
Posts: 330
Location: Kansas City

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone.....I mean ANYONE who defends torture, no matter what the reason, is no better than the most barbaric human filth in ISIS. If you defend torture, you have no place amongst the rest of us. Seriously, there is no place for you in a civilized world.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya gotta define it before you can judge it.

Ya also gotta convince us you'd let your kid die for a principle.
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LHDR



Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the absolutist's ideal that you shall not torture, but scenarios like the one by Isobars post a frustrating dilemma. They are often dismissed as irrelevant since they will never occur in the real world, an argument I find largely, if not completely, valid.

This person's reasoning is remarkable in the way it addresses the dilemma. He argues that torture can be morally justifiable, even obligatory, but should still be absolutely prohibited by law.

Gary Gutting: What’s your overall view on the morality of torture?
Jeff McMahan (Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford): I think that torture is almost always morally wrong and that, for moral reasons, it ought to be prohibited absolutely in law. Torture has been used to extract confessions, to terrorize people associated with the victims, to punish presumed wrongdoers, and even to gratify and amuse sadists and bullies. These uses are always morally wrong. The only use of torture that has any chance of being morally justified is to gain important information. But even when torture is used to gain information, the torturers are usually wrongdoers seeking information that will help them to achieve their unjust aims. And even when those seeking information have just aims, their victims are often innocent, or lack the information sought, or are sufficiently strong-willed to mislead their torturers, so that the torture is ineffective or counterproductive. Still, both those pursuing unjust aims and those pursuing just aims will continue to be tempted to engage in torture if they can do so with impunity. Hence, torture has been widely practiced, though its use has almost invariably been wrong. This means that the overriding goal of the law ought to be to deter the wrongful use of torture, even at the cost of forbidding the use of torture in those rare cases in which it might be morally justified. The legal prohibition ought therefore to be absolute; for those who think that torture would be advantageous to them will always be tempted to try to exploit any legal permission to use it.

G.G.: But you do agree that torture can, in extreme cases, be moral. Why do you reject the absolute view that any instance of torture is immoral?
J.M.: Torture can be morally justifiable, and even obligatory, when it is wholly defensive – for example, when torturing a wrongdoer would prevent him from seriously harming innocent people. It could do that by forcing a person to reveal the location where he has planted a bomb, or hidden a hostage who will die if not found. It can be morally justifiable to kill a person to prevent him from detonating a bomb that will kill innocent people, or to prevent him from killing an innocent hostage. Since being killed is generally worse than being tortured, it should therefore be justifiable to torture a person to prevent him from killing innocent people. In cases in which torture is defensive in this way, the person tortured is not wronged. Indeed, he could avoid the torture simply by doing what he is morally required to do anyway – namely, disclose the location of the bomb or hostage.

G.G.: Do you worry that even saying that torture can be moral will provide an excuse for immoral torture?
J.M.: Yes, very much. The philosopher Henry Shue has a story of being thanked for his influential 1978 article [“Torture,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 7, no. 2 (1978): 124-43] by a pair of American agents who had tortured people. The article had argued vigorously against torture but conceded at the end that the moral prohibition of torture is not absolute. The agents were grateful for the concession, as that made them feel they could engage in torture without doing wrong. I think this is the explanation of why many people who aren’t absolutists about any other moral issue say they are absolutists about torture. They rightly want to avoid giving any aid or comfort to those who seek to justify torture in the circumstances in which it is actually practiced. But there is a dilemma here, for it can seem morally obtuse, and therefore discrediting, to deny that torture is permissible in those cases in which it obviously is permissible – for example, when it would in fact force a kidnapper to reveal the location of hostages who will otherwise die.

G.G.: Should we treat cases of justified torture the way some say we should treat cases of justified civil disobedience: You may, in extraordinary cases, have a moral right to disobey the law, but then you have to face the legal consequences?
J.M.: I think so. To effectively deter wrongful torture, the law should make anyone contemplating torture feel that if he does so he will be sacrificing himself for the sake of morality. It may indeed be best for the law not even to allow a necessity defense for torture, though I don’t think it should make harsh penalties mandatory. It should be possible for courts to exercise leniency in sentencing if there are cases in which people have engaged in torture with clear moral justification. But potential torturers should not be allowed to think that they can evade punishment through statutory loopholes.
[..]
G.G.: As a moral philosopher, how do you view the recent controversies about the Senate report on the C.I.A.’s use of torture?
J.M.: It is reasonable to demand that a democratic government act in ways that it can justify to its citizens. The Bush administration lied to its citizens about its torture policy, which was in violation of international law and therefore also in violation of American law, which treats international law as the law of the land. Members of that administration have not shown that any of the many instances of torture in which Americans were involved were morally justified in the way I have suggested that they might in principle be justified. [..]

Full interview http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/can-torture-ever-be-moral/
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MalibuGuru



Joined: 11 Nov 1993
Posts: 4407

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think anyone here is pro-torture. But , if a nuclear weapon is planted somewhere in SF I would assume that Mac would be all for torturing the perpetrators before it went off.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 15020

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All that, and STILL not even an attempt at a definition. How dumb is THAT?

I gotta ask: How many of you would huywiwtqk your gltigtuhhie's huyqrti7/r?
Anyone who would is a htpyhqriqhit and should be wlruhqted until hutiwqqd.

" scenarios like the one by Isobars post a frustrating dilemma. They are often dismissed as irrelevant since they will never occur in the real world"
They happen often to one degree or another. "We have your [wife, son, dog, favorite board, etc.]. Pay up or never see [it, him, her] again." Yet even when the target or the cops are pretty sure who's guilty ... nada. Even more relevant is that when we're talking hypotheticals anyway, why not use another one to make the point?
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