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Why Not Torture Terrorists?Moral, Practical, and Legal Aspects of the "Ticking Bomb" Justification for Torture$
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Yuval Ginbar

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199540914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199540914.001.0001

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The Minimal Absolutist Approach II: Arguments for an Absolute Prohibition on Torture

The Minimal Absolutist Approach II: Arguments for an Absolute Prohibition on Torture

(p.64) 5 The Minimal Absolutist Approach II: Arguments for an Absolute Prohibition on Torture
Why Not Torture Terrorists?

Yuval Ginbar

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides arguments for a minimal absolutist prohibition on torture. Logically, once anti-absolutism is rejected, torture must be prohibited absolutely, as it contains the worst acts one person can possibly inflict on another. Some examples are used to illustrate the depth of inhumanity to which, it is argued, those who justify torture in a ticking bomb situation must be prepared to sink. To become a torturer, a person must suppress all compassion and self-regard, and become instead a calculating pain-inflicting machine. The torture-justifying morality is incapable of supplying reasons not to torture the terrorist's child to ensure his compliance. Nor would the terrorist's potential innocent civilians be safe from calculations by torture-justifiers that their death would prevent a more costly attack and thus must not be prevented. In contrast, a minimal absolutist view would oppose anyone becoming a victim of torture or of terrorism.

Keywords:   moral philosophy, minimal absolutism, ticking bomb situation, torture, moral aspects, slippery surface arguments, terrorism prevention

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