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Ethics of torture

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Carl: I need help with a 100 word (or so) response to the following students statement.

By far this is the most difficult discussion we have had to talk about especially in such an abstract way. In this scenario there are huge moral implications. We know that we have the ability to torture an innocent party to save a large amount of people. We know that this way is the only way that will work. I believe that there are several different approaches we could take to find the "right" answer.

First of all, we could approach this matter from the stand point of the greater good theory. We could sacrifice the good of the child for the good of the many. But as I think about this further I wonder if there is a flaw in this thinking. The greater good is achieved at this moment but who is to say what the lasting impact will be on the child or the family. What if from this situation the child develops a hatred of the US and at some point the child may end up as a terrorist or have other moral flaws that affect the good of others at a later time. While this thinking is completely hypothetical there is proof that children who endure torture and/or traumatic experiences have issues later in life. Therefore, we must ask ourselves if we really are achieving the greater good. Thus I would not think it is right to torture this child.

Secondly, we could assess the situation using the Bible as a basis as Holmes talks about in his book. We first must understand that we are under the new covenant and that the basis of this covenant is to love God and love each other. We know that Jesus did not even allow his disciples to defend him with sword when he was being taken away. According to 1 Corinthians 13 love is kind and it always protects. Thus we must be kind and always protect. I do not believe that this is only reserved for a large city of people but also for each individual. Lastly I think the golden rule can also be applied to this scenario. "Do unto others as you would have them do to you". We know that this is not limited to those who are perfect or decent but is applicable to all people. Thus if I were in this situation I would not want my child tortured for my "sins". Based upon the principals of the Bible I could not torture this child morally.

Holmes discusses in his book that ethics are based on the individual and the culture that the individual has grown up in. I am the sort of person that tends to see black and white or right and wrong. I am a very passionate and compassionate person. Empathy is a big part of who I am. This being who I am there is no way that I could torture anyone much less a child. I do not think that it is morally right no matter how many people I may save that to hurt and scar a child is right in any way shape or form. Ultimately I am responsible to God and I believe that he would not deem this appropriate or Christ like.


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Solution Preview

I think the student's ideas are on the right track, but missing a few key points. First, the greater good has nothing to do with numbers. The good in this case is not the number of people that will live or die, but the harming of an innocent in order to save other innocents. The greatest good is the preservation of life, and that presupposes innocent lives. The death of many would be a tragedy, but it is still insufficient reason to harm an innocent person. Second, the outcome of the tortured individual's life is ...

Solution Summary

The feature topic involves the ethics of torture.