Ethics And Society Essay

1567 words - 6 pages

Assignment TwoBushra Riaz7639736PHIL 2290 - A01April 10, 2013In the article Torture, Henry Shue argues that that torturing an individual may be worse than killing them. In the following paper, I will start by summarizing in detail the argument that Henry Shue presents. Next, I will consider an objection raised by David Sussmen to the claim made by Shue which states; victims of torture are defenseless. After this, a hypothetical response by Shue to the objection raised will be discussed. Lastly, I will state why I personally agree with Shue's views.Shue states that the main way in which torture is defended is through the argument that "just - combat killing" is morally permissible, and since torturing a person is not as bad as killing them, then torture must also be morally permissible (Shue, 125). He then breaks the main argument down in order to make its flaw apparent. The problem that Shue identifies with this argument is that moral permissibility is only measured based on the amount of harm done (Cite Pg. 126). Thus, even if it is assumed that torturing someone does in fact cause less harm than killing them, the argument presented is not valid. Shue then states that supporters of torture could easily change step (6) of the argument to the following, "Torture is sometimes morally permissible, provided that it meets whichever standards are satisfied by just-combat killing".(Cite, Pg.126). Thus, if the conditions that apply to jus-combat killing are satisfied in the case of torture then it may be permissible. However, if certain forms of torture do not meet the conditions then they must be deemed morally insupportable.[1: "Just-combat killing" is a type of killing that meets all the requirements of Just war theory.][2: He states that "The defense has two stages. A Since (1) just- combat killing is total destruction of a person (2) torture is usually only partial destruction ortemporary incapacitation of a person, and (3) the total destruction of a person is a greater harm than the partial destruction of a person is, then (4) just-combat killing is a greater harm than torture usually is;B Since (4) just-combat killing is a greater harm than torture usually is, and (5) just-combat killing is sometimes morally permissible, then (6) torture is sometimes morally permissible. ]The first condition of the Just war theory that Shue examines is Jus in Bello, which states that all violent acts must be aimed at "non-combatants" (Cite Pg. 127). He states that this ensures that there is a "fair fight" in which only people that are engaged in killing will be the ones that are harmed or killed. Furthermore, it is used to provide safety for those people that are unable to defend themselves (Cite Pg. 129). However, in the case of torture this condition is not met. The reasoning he provides is that torture occurs once a fight is finished, thus at this point the person being tortured has lost their power and is completely defenseless. Shue states, torture in this...

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