Torture Is It Ever Ethical Mill and Kant Theories

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Law

Document 1

Mill and Kant are examples of influential moral; philosophers whose theories have been used to support or question the morality of torture. Mill’s utilitarian theory is based on the “principle of utility” which asserts that the rightfulness of an action depends on the proportion of happiness they tend to bring and the wrongfulness of an act depends on the fraction of reversed happiness it brings along (Kelly, 2015). Happiness in this context refers to the presence of pleasure without pain. According to Mill, morality is solely grounded in happiness and that human being will never desire any other thing in their lives other than happiness. He further supports this argument by stating that all other entities that people desire are either included in the definition of happiness or are a means to happiness (Kelly, 2015).

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The first interpretation is known as the "law of Nature" which asserts that individuals should act solely based on the maxim that could be universalized. This formulation instructs individuals to universalize a principle without inconsistencies, failure to which an act can be considered immoral because it contradicts reason. Without universalism, some people may feel uncomfortable and freedom restrained acting from the same moral principles and according to Kant, freedom, and autonomy are very critical to being a moral agent. The second interpretation “End in Itself” ensures that an individual never treats others or him or herself simply as a means but at all times as an end. According to Kant, the act of treating someone merely as a means to some other end is an exploitation to their reasoning, yet people are expected to value one another as rational beings (Sullivan, (n.

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Therefore, he would conclude that one who decides not to use torture makes an acceptable ethical decision concerning their activities irrespective of the tragic consequences that may follow. Kant’s evidence would be based on the notions of universal humanity and rudimentary human rights which generates two widespread laws applicable to the ethical concerns of torture. The first rule asserts that individuals should take actions as if the axiom of their actions were by their willpower to become the common rule of nature. The second rule, on the other hand, requires individuals to take actions such that a manner that they give humankind, whether in their own self or in that of another, at all times as an end and never as a means exclusively.

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Based on the first law, torture is unjustifiable because people would not receive it being universalized and probably used against themselves. Harris’s mode of moral reasoning to justify torture is flawed by the fact that it poses challenges when analyzing the ethics of torture from a single entity perspective. Would it be ethically justifiable to torture 99 individuals just in an attempt to save 100 other people? Also, by justifying torture under certain circumstances, there are likely to be universal consequences for the inviolability of human rights. Moreover, the act of torture prevents a very ‘slippery slope' in which the act of torture could be extended from just a one occasion activity to a daily incident as in the case of Palestinian terror suspect case.

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Therefore, the concept that it could be applied to specific circumstances is questionable. Charles Fried and Gregory Fried argue in their book that torture is profoundly immoral because it infringes on human dignity and respect. He claims that torture has always been used on suspicious suspects to protect the lives of the innocent. Dershowitz has emerged as the most powerful defender of ‘enhanced measures’ of torture. He claims that a public turmoil could erupt in in countries that failed to implement all the critical measures needed to avert terrorist attacks. This argument could be the reason why the application of ‘coercive' interrogative methods has increased in the U. S since the September, 11 terrorist attacks. The arguments from the above authors could be related and compared to the mode of moral reasoning applied by Mill and Kant.

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Harris applies a consequentialist type of moral reasoning that seeks to establish a maximum benefit to the greatest number of people. Mill would most likely strongly support Harris's argument because he the consequences of torturing a terror suspect would tend to give the greatest happiness as it saves the lives of millions. Charles and Gregory apply deontological type of moral reasoning in which seeks to establish standard guidelines determining the ethicality of human deeds. Kant would likely support their argument because seeking to maintain a country's dignity and identity relates to the act of failing to contradict the universalized standards of the nation. Retrieved from https://www. huffingtonpost. com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993. html Siegel, R. (2010, September 10). php?storyId=5512634 Sullivan, R.  J.

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