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Michael Levin's The Case For Torture

1165 words - 5 pages

In “The Case for Torture,” Michael Levin presents logical fallacies that originate at the authors desire to relate the importance of his message. Though his specific argument is a very plausible solution to a taboo problem, the manner in which he presents it has some fallacies that cause it to be unsupported
Levin argues that torture should be used on terrorist in order to save people from terrorism. He further implies that this is the morally correct thing to do, because it ensures the good of the people. While his argument would be plausible in a utilitarian society, it is formidable within the cultural ideals of America as democratic societies typically tend to obscure techniques that violate natural rights and or ethics. Hence, Levin works excessively in order to convince his audience of his position. He uses three extreme, hypothetical examples in which torture may be necessary. One being a situation with a terrorist on Manhattan Island plotting to detonate a bomb on July fourth, another being a bomber on a jet plane wanting his demands to be met, and the last, a polled scenario where a terrorist group kidnapped newborn infants from a hospital. He also states that torture should not be punishment for an attack, but rather means of preventing one from happening. He then states that there must be “clear guilt” in order for someone to torture for these purposes. Finally, he addresses that the implications that accepting torture into western culture will emit to the rest of the world are nonexistent and the democracy will not lose its way.
Levin attempts to persuade the reader that torture is the only way to ensure justice with the use of multiple fallacies in a single statement that include: the either-or-fallacy, a contradiction, and a loaded question. He asks “If the only way to save those lives is to subject the terrorist to the most excruciating possible pain, what grounds can there be for not doing so?” (Levin) Here he implies that torture is the only option. The use of the phrase “only way” leads the reader to believe that there is no room for other options when in actuality there is. In fact the author acknowledges this other option when he states that we could satisfy the demands of the terrorist. Therefore the statement is not only fallible because it limits options presented to reader, but also because it contradicts the statement Levin made earlier in the article. Further, Levin uses a loaded question to ask the audience to provide reasons why torture would not be ideal. However, the original premise that torture is the only way to save lives would have to be accepted by the audience in order to relieve the question of any implied answer. In fact, the false dilemma explained prior is inside of the loaded question. The question presents to the reader two answers; that torture is the only option and that there cannot be another option. Here, the question is posed in hopes of obtaining a predetermined answer that would allude to and...

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