Torture as an Evil: Response to Claudia Card, “Ticking Bombs and Interrogation”
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Claudia Card presents an impassioned critique of torture. Her claim is that torture is never justified, not even in the “ticking bomb” scenarios beloved by philosophers. I share Professor Card’s absolute abhorrence of torture. Like her, I believe that torture is morally wrong, and the great majority of the paper is compelling in showing why. Moreover, her arguments succeed in demonstrating why tolerance to torture of the sort favoured by the Bush administration is indefensible. I thus find nothing to disagree with in the paper’s general message or in its real-life, present-day policy prescriptions.
However, Card wants to go further. She wants to show that torture is an evil. By an evil she means something that is not only morally wrong, but also morally inexcusable: something for which there could be no good reason and no partial justification.1In defence of this stronger claim Card’s method is to consider the potential candidates for excuses for torture and to show that they fail....