we’re in a war, so are some things justified?

John Quiggin at CT (and others in the comments) turn over the ticking bomb problem regarding torture. What they find underneath is that even if the situation could somehow legitimise torture under some ethical system, this does not necessitate dispensing with punishment for the torturer. If the situation were somehow severe enough to call for torture of an individual, it would also be severe enough to call for punishment of the applicant, even if their intentions were wholly good.

“Torture is wrong, but…” is a step into pragmatism that lends it a conditional legitimacy. Torture should not be treated as a last ditch tool in our carry-case. Even if the hypothetical situation arose, if a moral agent stepped out of bounds and committed the unconsciounable, it would have to do so aware that this isn’t merely a ‘Break in Case of Fire’ operation: it’s playing with the devils fire, with all the consequences that brings.

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