Returning to torture
SLevinson at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
Wed Nov 6 14:55:53 PST 2002
> > Question: If the announcement of such a policy ahead of time
> > prevents just a single terrorist from commiting a single
> > attack, saving (let's say) a mere 10 lives, is that worth it?
> > If not, why? What reason do we have for being such
> > fundamentalist anti-utilitarians?
One of the first things one learns in torts is that saving lives is not the
highest virtue, or else the speed limit would be 20 mph. If we make such
sacrifices for economic growth, then surely we make similar sacrifices to
preserve what are thought to basic values. I'm willing to concede that
torture (for information) would be legitimate if there is good reason to
believe that it would save, say, 100 lives; I'm not certain about 20 lives,
and I'm positive that it isn't sufficient if "only" one life would be
saved. But I'm even more certain that it would be illegitimate to adopt
torture as a punishment (and not a means of interrogation for information)
even if, by stipulation, it would deter a terrorist from committing an act
that would otherwise kill 100 people. Am I being a "fundamentalist
anti-utilitarian"? Is there not something to the (religious) idea that it
does not profit one to earn a fortune at the cost of one's soul? Can't the
same thing be said of nations?
More information about the Religionlaw