Friday, December 2, 2011

On "Tortured Reasoning"

In his essay "Tortured Reasoning," Alan Dershowitz calls for the requirement of torutre warrants. Requiring torture warrants holds someone accountable for the torture, which is a responsibility that no one is morally willing to accept; however, the majority supports torturing in specific situations (i.e. the ticking time bomb).
In "Tortured Reasoning" Alan Dershowitz asserts that he believes that torturing is bad, but because people do it anyway he wants it to become more public by issuing torture warrants. In order to issue torture warrants, toroture would have to be legalized, which is impossible. To legalize torture, it would first have to be justified. But how do you justify something that is irrational? Torturing has been proven to be an unreliable method of obtaining information. When under duress the tortured will be willing to say anything for alleviation; therefore any information they give will be unreliable, and the practice of torture will have been irrational. Moral reasons will also prevent people from legalizing warrants. Do you think that it was Dershowitz plan to actually create torture warrants? -- which would be flawed by this logic that was presented today in class. Or do you think he suggested it with this falw in mind to emphaisize how torture is unjust?


  1. I believe the torture warrants are a strategic maneuver to illustrates his point. He clearly asserts that he opposes torture. He knows by setting the standards extremely high, he will be able to illustrate that torture can rarely be justified or seen as necessary. Additionally he shows that torture is unjust because no one is willing to be responsible for any such actions. I do believe that he also should create torture warrants because he understands that these actions will continue regardless. Therefore, he can do two things. he can one, illustrate the injustice done by torture and how it is not necessary and he can have law implemented in the case that torture does happen.

  2. I think that there are good arguments on both sides: his essay is honestly recommending torture warrants or the warrants are a tool to show just how ridiculous torture is.
    I think Sarah's point in class is the most important aspect of his article: accountability. If a judge has to sign a paper saying 'you are allowed to torture this person', it is no longer a secretive thing. There are a chain of people openly admitting that they are a) torturing someone and b) allowing that torture to happen. One of the biggest problems with torture socially is how secretive the practice is, then suddenly a moral scandal occurs when pictures are found. With torture warrants, that aspect is taken out of the equation. There would also presumably be limitations on what the torturers could do, which would allow for more accountability of the victims.


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