Ethics and Torture Term Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Drama - World
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #86698448

Excerpt from Term Paper :

This resulted in many countries rejecting majority if not all of the aspects regarding torture. However, torture is still being practiced in quite a few countries although they would rather not accept it in front of their own public or on the international level. There are a number of devices that are being used in order to bridge this gap such as "need to know," country denial, using jurisdictional argument, "secret police," denying the torturous nature of the treatments, appeal to different laws, making claim regarding the "overriding need," and many more on. In the history and even today as well there are a lot of countries that have taken part in torture (unofficially), what this means is that all of these countries have stopped their efforts in trying to stop this trend of torture and have started making use of this technique again (Vreeland, 2008).

United States in one of those notorious countries in which the torture regimes have been stepped up in the 20th century. The use of water torture which was done by U.S. military against the Filipino detainees was defended by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 as he said that, "It did no real harm," the widespread use of the "third degree" (in which very intense interrogation methods are used that are mostly similar to torture) are by the police was revealed by The Wickersham Commission in 1931 (Schmid and Crelinsten, 1994).

Very unique methods which actually began the use of torture in the U.S. were used by the CIA during the period of Cold War from 1950 to 1962. A secret research effort was conducted by the CIA in order to find out the code of the human consciousness. In 1963 a KUBARK Interrogation Manual was distributed by the CIA which was an interrogation guide comprising of 128 pages and had various references to the torture techniques as well. It was for decades that the manual was made use of by the CIA internally and it was also a part of the curriculum which was there to train the U.S.-sustained Latin American mercenaries at the School of the Americas from 1987 and 1991(Schmid and Crelinsten, 1994).

It can be seen throughout the history that in order to extract relevant information torture has been used by the humans for a very long time. It is very disturbing to think that the human can make use of such inhuman actions. Therefore, it is very important to make efforts to stop such practices from taking place (Schmid and Crelinsten, 1994).

In order to make an ethical decision regarding the use of torture in any kind on the humans the first step is to have a look at the obligations that are linked to using methods and tactics of this kind on the human beings. We can define obligations as the demand to avoid doing something or to actually do something, limitations on our behavior etc. In case of torture it does not matter if you are militia, government or the police force your major duty is to serve the country and the people in it and to protect their rights. Research has clearly shown that it is only one third of the time that torture usually works since the person being tortured will say anything in order for the torture to be stopped therefore, the information being given by the tortured doesn't necessarily have to be correct (Waldron and Colin, 2007).

Another decision that needs to be taken when he/she is trying to make an ethical decision is to take into consideration the cardinal moral values associated with the techniques of torture being used against the people. We can define ideals as the goals that help us in bringing harmony in ourselves as well as with the others, these are the notions of excellence and these are also the concepts which help us in the achievement of respect for the people through our actions and judgment. By making use of these ideals one can understand the cardinal moral values and use them in the process of ethical decision making (Waldron and Colin, 2007).

Considering the consequences is the last step that should be looked at when trying to make a decision of the ethical nature. The cause-and-effect relationship that is there between the action and result is what the consequence deals with. While there is predictable response associated with the physical objects, the human affairs usually result in the unpredictable response. Doing good and avoiding the evil is the basic rule associated with the ethics. There is no doubt about the fact that every action has a reaction or a consequence therefore, before making any action its consequences should be thought about. For example one of the consequences of torture can be that the person being tortured can start to give false information or what he/she feels the torturer want to hear in order to stop the torture (Waldron and Colin, 2007).

In my opinion torture is unethical, morally unjust and it should be declared as an outlaw without any exceptions as, the basic principle of respect and regard for humans is violated by it. History itself is a proof of the fact that torture has done more wrong than good. The Geneva Convention, U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, as well as, American Army codes of conduct have declared torture to be outlaw which further proves it to be wrong. Therefore, in my opinion other methods of interrogation need to be created to get the information out of people.


Levinson, Sanford (2006). Torture: A Collection. Oxford University Press, USA.

Parry, John T. (2010). Understanding Torture: Law, Violence, and Political Identity. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Reddy, Peter (2005). Torture: What You Need to Know, Ginninderra Press, Canberra, Australia.

Schmid, Alex P. And Crelinsten, Ronald D. (1994). The politics of pain: torturers and their masters. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.

Vreeland, James Raymond (2008). Political…

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