This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Why I’d Rather Not Speak About Torture

M D Aresteanu's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by M D Aresteanu

Sam Harris gets a lot of slack for simply being honest. He's not defending all torture. He's arguing that, in principle, torture isn't always an immoral action. He believes it should be illegal, while maintaining that in a very tiny fraction of cases, that rule might backfire on us. This is very much like the trolley problem. It's a thought experiment to make you think clearly about the interplay of human interactions and the allotted well-being of each. In trying to propose a science of morality focused on human well-being, he must expose the obvious problems his theory will encounter. To take a absolutist position in regards to torture(to be against it) is great in practice, but in principle, might be wrong every now and then. I think, in the case of torture, we can all agree that only in the most far-fetched of scenarios, would we kick ourselves for preemptively denying ourselves the possibility of using it. Hence, make it illegal. Military intervention(which is what he uses as a comparison...dropping bombs), on the other hand, isn't an easy pragmatic issue. Sam isn't trying to blur the lines...he's trying to show us that we are the arbitrators of the lines we can and can't cross.

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 19:47:22 UTC | #620792