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Torture - Essay Example

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There has been extensive debate on the issue of torture and its moral permissibility. There have been requests on banning cruel treatment and torture of prisoners of war. With respect to what is torture, there have been varied philosophical views from Michael Davis (2005) and David Sussman (2005)…
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Torture Essay
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Torture

A third viewpoint has arisen recently which combines views of both the groups and debates that torture can in some extreme emergencies be morally justified, however it should not be legalized or institutionalized.
As per the definition of torture, it involves some practices like using electric shocks, cutting some body parts, using hot iron, administrating severe pain, depriving of food, water and sleep for days together or beating. All this includes physically assaulting a person by the torturer by having a control over the person. The person who is being tortured is defenceless and also not agreeable to such assault. Apart from these, extreme mental assault can also be considered torture. However, the extent of it and consent of the person being tortured to brand the assault as torture is well arguable. On the other hand, it might be argued that some cases of intentional infliction of extreme mental suffering on non-consenting, defenceless persons are cases of torture, whereas some instances are not.
According to an article on Torture by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy published in February, 2006, "In various national and international laws, e.g. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (United Nations 1984 - see Other Internet Resources), a distinction is made between torture and inhumane treatment, albeit torture is a species of inhumane treatment. Such a distinction needs to be made. For one thing, some treatment, e.g. flogging, might be inhumane without being sufficiently extreme to count as torture. For another thing, some inhumane treatment does not involve physical suffering to any great extent, and is therefore not torture, properly speaking (albeit, the treatment in question may be as morally bad as, or even morally worse than, torture). Some forms of the infliction of mental suffering are a case in point, as are some forms of morally degrading treatment, for example causing a prisoner to pretend to have sex with an animal." (Unknown author, Torture, 2006)

Though the main reason for torture is to break the victim's will, the other reasons for torture according to the above-mentioned U.N. Convention list them as to get a confession for a crime, to gather some information; to force a person or a group of people to behave in a way desired by the torturer as well as to punish for the crime.

Now the question arises on why torture is considered as wrong. Torture includes two aspects which are morally wrong as it involves administrating acute physical assault which is done intentionally on another person as well as it is administered on a fellow human being involving intentional, substantial curtailment of individual autonomy.

Authorities in the field feel that torture is worse than killing. According to Michael Davis,
"Both torture and (premature) death are very great evils but, if one is a greater evil than the other, it is certainly torture" (Davis, Michael, 2005: 165), and David Sussman feels, "Yet while there is a very strong moral presumption against both killing and torturing a human being, it seems that we take the presumption against torture to be even greater than that against homicide" (Sussman, David, 2005: 15). Another point related to why torture ... Read More
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