The tick-tick-ticking time bomb and erosion of human rights institutions

Angelaki 24 (4):87-102 (2019)

Abstract

Despite intensive work by human rights organizations to garner global condemnation of torture, in the years since the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were exposed, support in the United States for the use of torture has increased, and torture also attracts significant support in many other countries. This paper seeks to understand the affective work that the ‘ticking time bomb scenario’ and its imagined dramatization does in shaping how torture is understood. The literature is replete with debates over whether the scenario distorts or accurately describes the actual circumstances in which decisions about torture occur, and the moral criteria that ought to be brought to the decision-making process. In describing the scenario as a “thought experiment,” however, these analyses obscure the work that this imagined scene does in shaping how people evaluate the use of torture – work that takes place at the affective and somatic levels. Induced into a process of racially inflected and affectively laden identifications and aversions, the paper suggests that the “subjects” of this thought experiment do very little thinking and thus fact-based or logical counter-arguments are of little use in shifting evaluations of torture. Rather, we need to understand the affective work that somatically grounded stories do in normalizing and inducing subjects to embrace torture. The paper is particularly interested in how imagined scenarios can be used to institute affects that freeze and immobilize, and how we might construct other narratives to encourage more dynamic and fluid forms of affective experience and identification. Exploring the link between narratives and more dynamic affects may offer more productive strategies for encouraging people to shift positions as they confront new evidence and encounter other experiences and bodies.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,856

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-07-10

Downloads
8 (#1,015,107)

6 months
1 (#386,016)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

A Defense of Abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

It’s About Time: Defusing the Ticking Bomb Argument.J. Jeremy Wisnewski - 2008 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (1):103-116.
Why Torture is Wrong.Bob Brecher - 2012 - In Contemporary Debates on Terrorism. London: Routledge. pp. 159-165.
The Ticking Time Bomb Case for Torture.Bernard G. Prusak - 2007 - Social Philosophy Today 23:201-209.
The "Ticking Bomb": A Spurious Argument for Torture.Bob Brecher - 2012 - Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives 1 (1):30-38.
Tragic Choices: Reaffirming Absolutes in the Torture Debate.Christopher W. Tindale - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (2):209-222.
Tragic Choices: Reaffirming Absolutes in the Torture Debate.Christopher W. Tindale - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (2):209-222.
Torture — The Case for Dirty Harry and Against Alan Dershowitz.Uwe Steinhoff - 2006 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (3):337-353.
Ticking Time-Bombs and Torture1.Fritz Allhoff - 2014 - In Andrew I. Cohen & Christopher H. Wellman (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 22--247.
Tortured Knowledge: Epistemological Problems with Ticking-Bomb Cases.Eric M. Rovie - 2009 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2):315-333.
Tortured Ethics.Matthew R. Silliman & David Kenneth Johnson - 2007 - Social Philosophy Today 23:211-222.
Tortured Ethics.Matthew R. Silliman & David Kenneth Johnson - 2007 - Social Philosophy Today 23:211-222.