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Kant's Morality Essay

1357 words - 6 pages

"This guy was in interrogation. He wasn't willingly giving stuff up." That’s what an officer involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein told the Washington Post. If the informant who led U.S. forces to Saddam wasn't giving information willingly, why did he give any information at all? It is hard to avoid thinking about the dirty word that everyone is too polite to mention, the "T-word": torture? They say it was just "interrogation," which is what torture lite is. Things like bags over the head, tight handcuffs, no light, no food or bathroom, endless shouting or blaring music or noise, bits of light violence. And, of course, the constant mental and emotional torture of fearing that serious ...view middle of the document...

" Even though that rule protects many criminals from conviction, in its absence people could be tortured or threatened into confessing crimes they didn't commit. So, if there were no fifth amendment, it would not cause the greatest good for the greatest number of people. An act utilitarian would permit torture in certain circumstances. When an act of torture would, all things considered, maximize happiness or minimize unhappiness, then it should be done. The rule utilitarian would be more careful respect for “the rules” amounts to a genuine respect for the rights of individuals. This would imply that torture lite is wrong due to the simple fact that is causes suffering and violates the interreges rights as a human.

The concept of torture lite can also be condemned according to Kant’s categorical imperative. According to the first formulation, one must ask themselves if the action they are about to engage in corresponds to a rule, which should be applied universally. So, if one was to consider torture lite, one would have to first formulate a maxim based on this planned action: “It is good to torture individuals.” Then one would have to decide if it would be a good thing for this rule to apply to everyone. The question must be asked, would it be a good thing for everyone to think that it was okay to torture individuals? The answer is no, therefore this action can be stated to be immoral, and therefore the act of torture lite to a particular individual should not be indulged, whether or not it is deserved. This is all according to Kant’s first formulation of categorical imperative.

The second formulation, however, is fairly easy to understand. It simply states that we should never use people for our own benefit, thinking nothing of them as people. Instead, we should see the benefit of others as our end goal, rather than the means. Clearly, torture lite can be used to directly benefit the torturer, and during these brutal acts, the torturer thinks nothing of the individual. The only thing the torturer is awaiting to receive is vital information and/or some other type of benefits. This evidently condemns the act of torture lite according to the second formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative.

In my personal opinion, I would consider the act utilitarian aspect of this subject to be morally right just because it essentially protects and focuses on the greater good. I read a science fiction story where in the near future a terrorist group hides a nuclear device in a large city. Those responsible are captured, but refuse to tell where the bomb is hidden. The government hires professional torturers to extract the information from the terrorists. In the story the reasons behind the use of the torturers become less and less justifiable over time until eventually they are used to prevent hung juries, and save the people’s...

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