Lexington Books (2011)

Stephen Kershnar
Fredonia State University
This book is an analysis and evaluation of torture. My take on torture is unique for four reasons. First, it provides a distinct analysis of what torture is. Second, it argues that on non-consequentialist grounds, specifically rights-based ones, torture is sometimes permissible. Third, it argues that torturers are not always vicious. Fourth, it argues that it is plausible that these conclusions apply to some real world cases. In short, it fills the following gap: it evaluates torture from a rights-based perspective and finds that in some cases it is permissible. My book is a unique philosophical exploration of torture. It combines a philosophical analysis of torture with a moral evaluation of it. The philosophical analysis of torture has not received a lot of attention. My analysis defends a minimal view of torture and one that distinguishes the analysis of the concept of torture from the moral evaluation of it. The resulting theory, the minimalist theory, differs noticeably from other analyses. My moral evaluation of torture sharply differs from the rest of the literature. The evaluation focuses on the non-consequentialist approach to morality, that is, it assumes that what makes an action right is not solely whether it brings about the best results. Using the central feature of non-consequentialism, moral rights, I argue that torture is justified in a number of theoretical contexts, including defense, punishment, and when the person to be tortured consents. I then look at the actual world and argue that it is plausible to think that there are real-world cases where torture is justified. My analysis also looks at whether torture is virtuous in an attempt to get at what intuitively repels us about torture. My analysis is not only the first look at the issue, but it also ties in with recent developments in virtue theory. As in the analysis of the permissibility of torture, I try to show that my findings with regard to virtue are not merely of theoretical interest, but are plausible given some real-world cases.
Keywords Torture  Punishment  Interrogation  Rights  Forfeiture  Desert  Virtue  War
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ISBN(s) 9780739167779   0739167774
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