One View of the Dungeon: Torture and the Ticking Time Bomb Between Governmentality and Sovereignty

This paper analyzes "ticking time bomb" scenarios in the discursive legitimation of torture and other coercive interrogation techniques. Judith Butler proposes a Foucauldian framework to suggest that Adminstration policies can be read as the irruption of sovereignty within governmentality. Rereading Foucault, I suggest that the policies could equally be understood as an exercise of governmentality, i.e., the subordination of juridical law to economy. I then propose as a reconciliation of these readings that time bomb scenarios serve rhetorically to make the exercise of arbitrary power Butler identifies appear as an exercise of governmentality; sanitized of complications, coercive interrogation appears efficient.
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DOI intstudphil20084022
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