Monday, September 29, 2008

Machiavelli story in The New Yorker

"The Florentine"


Cat Rauck said...

I believe there is absolutely no justification in the act of torture. Defining the end and safety of a nation on the notion that it is justifiable to physically harm another human being defies all moral grounds of human nature.

The last paragraph of the article briefly mentions Vice-President Cheney and his belief that we must go to "the dark side" when addressing terrorists. I can see that as a nation in a current state of war and with the ever present 9/11 doom one might try to justify such actions on terrorists but do not agree.

It is a 'terrible choice' and mankind will never in my opinion hold the power to inflict physical pain on another life no matter the circumstances, isn't this why we call ourselves civilized?

lynn s said...

In theory, there is no justification for the act of torture. But unfortunately, this is life and not a philosophy book. Life is cruel and unfair, because people are evil and corrupted. I would love to say that torture cannot be justified, but in context, it can sometimes appear to be the best answer to a problem where there is no clear or definite right or wrong answer. This is why people sometimes resort to torture.

Example: A child is kidnapped by a rapist/murderer who has committed the act several times before. He is caught, but the child cannot be found, because he won’t tell of her whereabouts. There is evidence that she is still alive, but her welfare is unknown (starving, being tortured, with another criminal etc.). How do you get the rapist/murderer to talk if he rejects the bribes he is offered? What happens if the police cannot find her? What would seem to be the most logical way to fix the problem? Also, imagine if you were the parent of this child. Obviously, the criminal cannot be harmed, because of our law enforcement policies. But if torture does not cross your mind at some point, then to be honest, you’re a cold heartless person (if you could be called human at all).

So, what do we do in situations like these? Since we live in an evil world, it should not be a question of whether torture is justifiable. What we should be questioning is: in what situations is torture justified and who should be the one to determine when torture is justified?