ebook When the Unthinkable is Morally Permissible

By Mirko Bagaric

cover image of Torture

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The "war on terror" has brought the subject of torture to the forefront of public attention. In contrast to other discussions that focus narrowly on the practice of torture, and condemn it under any and all circumstances, Mirko Bagaric and Julie Clarke argue that to take this position is to live in a moral vacuum. The subject of torture causes our emotions to conflict with our reason. When we have a choice between saving the life of an innocent person, and not harming a terrorist or other wrongdoer, it is indecent to absolutely prefer the interests of the wrongdoer. In contrast, they propose a moral standard where each individual's interest counts equally. Within this standard, the ostensibly brutal act of torture may be permissible if it has the potential to achieve compassionate outcomes in the form of saving innocent lives.