The Case For Torture

The Case For Torture


Torture is the deliberate, systematic, or wanton which serious infliction or suffering, whether physically or mentally, is intentionally inflicted on a person in attempt to obtain from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act which he or the third person has been charged.

Torture has been used as a method of interrogating penalty or coercion. It is however prohibited under the international law and domestic laws of most countries because it is considered as violation of human rights.


Michael Levin’s article mainly argues that the use of torture is essential in order to safeguard the lives of very many innocent people is justifiable. In his applied example, he argues that mass murder on innocent lives by an atomic bomb which can kill millions of people in expense for money and release of his friends from jail by a terrorist, justifies the use of torture to stop such uncivilized act which terrorists use. The only way to save those lives is to subject the terrorist to the most excruciating possible pain with the motive of wanting to protect the lives of many innocent people. In response to Michael Levin by Jing Cheng Yu, he contrasts by saying that torture is unconstitutional. For torture to exist, it means that human rights are violated. It is stated by the international law that everyone has a right to be protected from torture, regardless of their status.

Torturing is however, unconstitutional only when motives behind are viewed reasonably immoral. We should therefore not impose pain mainly just to force another party to concede the truth of the matter when he or she does not wish to. But if the truth will lead to the location of lets say, timed bomb, which will then be disseminated in time, to prevent the whole building from collapsing then torture should be administered to the terrorist. In this case should the constitution protect the terrorist against torture? Millions of lives outweigh constitution; it’s not justifiable for a constitution to uphold the rights of a terrorist in expense of more lives to be lost.

The author does not recommend for torture as a punishment, rather an acceptable criterion for preventing future evils. Torture, in cases described in the text, is not intended to bring anyone back to life but to keep innocent lives from being polished off.

Torture is allowable where evidence suggests that this is the only means, due to immediacy of the situation, to save life of an innocent person. The reason that torture in such a case is defensible and necessary is because the justification manifests from closest thing of the right to self defence.Torture is justified in an extreme cases given an example that someone plants a bomb on a jumbo jet, he alone can disarm it, and his demands cannot be met. In this case the decision to use torture is a matter of balancing innocent lives against the means needed to save them. Despite the fact that citizens should not tolerate torture because its forbidden by the constitution, and by supporting the idea of torture, one is deserting the nations precepts and constitutional protections. One cannot kill innocent lives because torture is prohibited by constitution.

The author mentioned that there exist one powerful controversy against the use of torture and that is, their practice ignores the rights of an individual. Everyone has a right to live and we all agree that, but take an example where a poll was conducted by the author a case where a terrorist or a group kidnapped a new born baby from hospital, four mothers were asked if they would approve of torturing the kidnappers, if that were necessary to get their new borns back, all agreed adding they would administer it themselves. If torture was torture was to be administered to these kidnappers would that be violation of human rights, for one to get her new born child? But one would argue out that Levin’s argument relays basically on philosophical argument of lesser evil of greater good, and there are situations that force one to choose between two evils.

This informal poll of the four anonymous mothers conducted by Levin has however been criticized in that it is evident that Levin invoked to the concerns and feelings of parents in question .While the poll may show the intensity of maternal feelings towards children, which one could speculate would also exist in the mothers of individual toutres.It bears no relevance of the illegal justification of torture on broader range of the society.

There is a substantial deviation between terrorists and their victims that should mute talk of terrorists ‘rights’. The terrorists’ victims are at danger accidentally not having asked to be threatened. Unlike his victims, he offered for the risks of his act by threatening to kill for benefit of idealism and thus gives up on civilized standards.

Towards the last part of his article, the author remarked that in order to distinctly draw a line amongst ‘WE’ and ‘THEM’ we should only torture the obviously responsible with a condemnable act, and for the sake of saving the innocents. But there is a dilemma in this statement in that the statement aims to set the limit for justifiable torture it fails to see that some evil doers are hard to pin down as evidently guilty.

The use emotional dilemma forces the reader duality of ‘us and them’ for instance near the conclusion of the article he makes a series of rhetorical statements about good and evil ad about the preservation of western democracies. He makes elusive references to “freedom fighters”, “embassy”, “masked gunmen”, hinting to various plane hijackings that took place in 1970s and 1980s.Levin predicts of other terrorist events and decides that torture will be the only way to save thousands of lives. This forces the audience to recommend the use of torture which is twinned to conservation of western democracies.


To conclude, the use of torture is an execution that is satisfactory so long as it satisfies the fulfillment of the concept of “moral standards” as a whole. There would not be a definite answer whether torture is right or wrong. It’s a challenge that will carry on to be enforced onto humanity should they resolve to accomplish one certain justification.