So. Torture.

chocolate pickles

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If it's a terrorist, then they can do what ever they like to him: I'm pretty sure he would have no hesitation if it the other way round.

To me, he forfeited any 'human rights' when he thought that religion gave him an excuse to kill innocent people.
 

Augustine

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chocolate pickles said:
If it's a terrorist, then they can do what ever they like to him: I'm pretty sure he would have no hesitation if it the other way round.

To me, he forfeited any 'human rights' when he thought that religion gave him an excuse to kill innocent people.
That's horrible. Opposing sides find excuses to kill innocent people in every notable war. This approach is basically a license to torture anyone in most conflicts.
 

OldNewNewOld

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Cowabungaa said:
Adeptus Aspartem said:
What's the point of it now? I don't understand this thought experiment at all. What do you conclude from this?
It's clearly a moral/ethical thought experiment.

Going from that it poses a tough challenge to most ethical systems. Utilitarianism would obviously go "Jup it's fine" but fuck utilitarianism anyway. Broken-ass bullshit system that is.
It really isn't a moral/ethical thought experiment.
For it to be that, it would need to have both options have similar weight. As it is, it's basically do you pick a semi-bad outcome for one person and saving tons of lives or this sami-good outcome for one person and tons of corpses. What more, it removed the uncertainty of the outcome. You know it would work 100% of the time. You're forced to pick, might as well pick the lesser of the two evils. Might as well no give any choice at all.

I would go for no because I can't imagine such a scenario.
Sure we can know he is part of the group. But how are we 100% that he has the information? That he will give the real info instead of fake info? How do we know he will give us anything at all?
When he gives it to us, how do we know it's real? The only way to know the information is real is if we already know the information. Why torture? How do we know that there is no other outcome? Why even torture when even a freaking Nazi interrogator realized that being nice gives better results?
No matter how much I try, I can't put myself in that scenario. I know the answer should be yes, but I'm going for no.

Honestly, this whole scenario stinks like a poll that my local newspaper would do and then the tomorrows big news would be "People demand torture to be legal." Not saying OP means it, just how it feels. Set up a scenario that did never and will never happen, set it up in such a way that is insanely heavily biased towards one side and then ask people what they would pick. Basically making sure that the wanted answer will be picked by the majority. Yep, exactly what someone with a dubious goal would do.
 

RhombusHatesYou

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Gorrath said:
Once you cross the line and start justifying atrocities by their outcome, there is no atrocity we cannot justify.
You can actually demonstrate exactly that using a series of decreasingly biased/skewed scenarios... only it's now considered unethical to do so (insofar as research and professional practice go, nothing stops the media or private citizens from doing it) as it can cause people considerable emotional and psychological distress when they realise exactly how far down the path you've 'led' them. It's tangentially related to Milgram's Obedience to Authority experiments (also now classed as unethical due to emotional and psychological distress in participants) and some argument over whether Obedience to Authority actually biases the results.
 

Dann661

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As far as I'm concerned, terrorists know that if they get caught they are possibly going to be tortured, so they practically signed up for it, so I'm always pro-torture as long it is clear to the public what crimes may result in it.
 

JarinArenos

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Queen Michael said:
1. In this hypothetical scenario, the torture is guaranteed to produce accurate information only.

2. There is no other way to acquire the information.

3. You know for sure that the attack will take place.

EDIT 2: This thread is meant for a discussion about whether you'd choose torture in this unrealistic fantasy scenario; not about whether torture works in the real world.
I... really don't see the point of the discussion when you twist the question this far out of line with reality. It just strikes me as really disingenuous, trying to shape a discussion where torture might be okay to create an artificial gray area where none exists.

Edit: You can do this for about any controversial topic. Example: "What if you could prove beyond doubt that babies were conscious from the moment of conception. Would you still support abortion?" "What if black people were legitimately dumber than whites, inherently and universally... would you still support equal rights?"
 

Lightknight

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JarinArenos said:
Queen Michael said:
1. In this hypothetical scenario, the torture is guaranteed to produce accurate information only.

2. There is no other way to acquire the information.

3. You know for sure that the attack will take place.

EDIT 2: This thread is meant for a discussion about whether you'd choose torture in this unrealistic fantasy scenario; not about whether torture works in the real world.
I... really don't see the point of the discussion when you twist the question this far out of line with reality. It just strikes me as really disingenuous, trying to shape a discussion where torture might be okay to create an artificial gray area where none exists.
I think the point is just to establish that there are circumstances where we'd be more OK with torture than others. I think #1 is heavy handed and #3 is irrelevant. But the general premise is there.

I would have done it like this:

1. The individual is a verified terrorist (as opposed to a military prisoner of war or innocent bystander).
2. The individual most likely knows the information you're looking for that could save innocent lives and is refusing to give it.
3. The information is not obtainable in a more efficient, less harmful manner.

That is what generates the good information. But I think the OP's example was just to see if we'd be OK with the act of torture if we knew for sure that we'd get what we want. It's a valid question.

Edit: You can do this for about any controversial topic. Example: "What if you could prove beyond doubt that babies were conscious from the moment of conception. Would you still support abortion?" "What if black people were legitimately dumber than whites, inherently and universally... would you still support equal rights?"
FYI, Those are both interesting discussions to have.
 

Staskala

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The only interesting thing about this non-dilemma is that a lot of people would suddenly indeed get into an internal dilemma if you rephrased it to "Would you condone torture of an USAF/RAF/whatever member if it was the only way to prevent a drone strike that would kill 100 Pakistani civilians and no one else". Not quite so pragmatic anymore, ain't ya.
 

Thaluikhain

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Kaulen Fuhs said:
JarinArenos said:
Example: "What if you could prove beyond doubt that babies were conscious from the moment of conception. Would you still support abortion?" "What if black people were legitimately dumber than whites, inherently and universally... would you still support equal rights?"
Why are those examples supposedly bad? I can see plenty of good discussion coming out of both of them. For example, I'd still be pro-abortion, but I figure most people would change their minds, and I'd be interested in the arguments that flow from such a "revelation".
In theory, yes, in practice, those questions asked by people in our society would come with a lot of baggage, and would likely not be in good faith. Also, be very personal for some people.
 

Zannah

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Staskala said:
The only interesting thing about this non-dilemma is that a lot of people would suddenly indeed get into an internal dilemma if you rephrased it to "Would you condone torture of an USAF/RAF/whatever member if it was the only way to prevent a drone strike that would kill 100 Pakistani civilians and no one else". Not quite so pragmatic anymore, ain't ya.
On the contrary. We know from experience that is the ISIS or a similar "enemy" got their hands on someone, combatant or noncombatant, they will do anything they can to extract such information, then execute the prisoner for political leverage. So why exactly are we obligated to give courtesy to people that we know for a fact do not return it.
Western liberal Morals are a luxury that neglects the realities of warfare. And the western world is paying dearly for it's (imposed) willingness to extend such courtesies as human rights to people that fire rockets at israeli nuclear reactors, or send gunmen to the schools where the children of pakistani soldiers are.
 

AgedGrunt

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Unless you bow 100% to law and would put known terrorists' integrity before the safety of your country and people, in order to uphold principle, you'll come to the same sort of conclusion many in the CIA/US.gov did at the time.

That said, if there was strong reason to believe a bad person has info, clock ticking and a lot of innocent lives on the line, I'd approve enhanced interrogation. Doesn't mean I'd do it, but I also don't want to slaughter animals so the world can eat, yet I know that has to be done or a lot of people will starve. Also doesn't mean I approve any methods used; those, I feel, should be the real focus.

MarsAtlas said:
Well, I'll preface this with torture doesn't actually work, because I feel the need to make that clear.

Now that bieng said, the question here is weighing the human rights of a military prisoner as well as those afforded to him under treaties like Geneva Conventions versus the human right to not be murdered, as well as making a few extra considerations, among them being what the identity for what the US is going to be. Now operating under the assumption that in this scenario that they know that an attack will happen, but not what or where (which isn't likely), I would probably side with torture, since this basically reads as the classic Would You Kill The Fat Man scenario, where misery is inevitible, and most people just side with the outcome for minimizing it, given that this isn't plausible in reality.
So you say it doesn't work, but would approve if it did (the CIA, who actually ran the program, says otherwise). That's a strangely hypothetical argument for a hypothetical scenario. Anyway, it then reasons that trying an interrogation program becomes viable if you're certain of getting intelligence. There goes the law, and that's also consistent with the American people, a majority responding in polls that the program was justified.

The only comeback, which you would likely repeat, is that it's all meaningless because "it doesn't work". I'm curious why people, even journalists, keep saying this without actually talking to the people who ran the program. The Senate, who filed a monstrous report on the program, didn't do that, either.
 

Kerethos

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Considering there are far better interrogation methods, with more reliable results than torture, and you don't have to become the worst kind of person imaginable to extract information; No, I would not and will not ever condone torture - for any reason.

I'd rather die than have someone torture another human being to save me. The ends do not justify the means, and it's not worth winning if you become worse than what you're fighting - because then you've lost what you where fighting for (provided you didn't fight for the right to torture people, as long as you got something you could use out of it. I guess).

But all these things are rendered moot in this hypothetical scenario, because torture is the magic cure! So I'd go for full on torture, ravage that butt, pluck the eyes, pull the nails, the teeth, subject the terrorist to noise, light and drugs. Why not throw in a little waterboarding too? Set the terrorists foot on fire? Electrocution? Classic beatings? A little cutting, maybe some extremities the terrorist can live without? Off goes the pinky! What will be next? The big toe? The lips? Only your imagination can save the day, hero!

Make the terrorist eat their own grilled genitals? Go nuts - extract and deep fry the testicles/ovaries, and serve them with BBQ sauce - or piss? It's all for a good cause, right? Anything to save lives.

Maybe psychological torture, through inflicting horrors on those the terrorist care for? Set the terrorists children on fire? Subject the terrorist to baths of leaches? Spiders? Snakes? Mock burial? Mock execution? Gotta save people, even if that makes you a monster.

Perhaps show the terrorist a video of you gutting the terrorists loved one, and then say you'll do the same to another one if the terrorist doesn't talk? Acid supposedly really hurts, right? That might work? It's all for a good cause. You're not the bad guy here, the terrorist is.

Flay him alive and salt the exposed flesh? You're doing it for a good cause, remember that and you'll be fine. You're the hero in this story, and you've got to save people.

How far will you go? At what point does the terrorist break? What is left of you when that happens?

Then once my creativity is spent, and I have the magic information, I'd use my spacemagic and send the information to my earlier self. Thereby creating an alternative reality - or just a paradox - where I already had the information and didn't need to torture the terrorist.

And so I'd prevent the attack in time, without expending my right to do anything but exist alone and isolated in a small cell with nothing by my conscience to keep me company until I die of old age.

Spacemagic just saved the day! Hurrah for spacemagic!
 

Lightknight

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Kerethos said:
Considering there are far better interrogation methods, with more reliable results than torture,
Oh? Do tell *pulls up chair*. What kind of studies have you performed to corroborate your claim and what are the exact methods of interrogating with a higher success rate than torture?

What I've heard a lot of people say is that torture is bad. What I haven't heard someone say is an alternative to it if the information is that vital.
 

Kerethos

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Lightknight said:
Kerethos said:
Considering there are far better interrogation methods, with more reliable results than torture,
Oh? Do tell *pulls up chair*. What kind of studies have you performed to corroborate your claim and what are the exact methods of interrogating with a higher success rate than torture?

What I've heard a lot of people say is that torture is bad. What I haven't heard someone say is an alternative to it if the information is that vital.
I have not made any in-depth study of the effectiveness of various interrogation methods, though I would certainly be interested in such a study.

From my limited knowledge, however, I've gathered that mind games are quite effective, which basically boils down to bluffing, lying, gaining confidence or confusing the person you're trying to gain information from. A basic example would be cross interrogation of multiple suspects, in order to catch them in lies and eventually piece together the truth.

Or you could attempt to confuse the terrorist into believing more time has passed and that the attack already took place, simply by keeping them indoors and without access to any means of telling time. Having to rely sole on you to provide that information. At that point the person might chose to gloat, and reveal the place of attack well before it happened.

Gaining the confidence of the person has been proven quite effective, if time consuming. And making deals has a long history of working out.

With torture you never know until you've checked if the information is correct, or if you are simply given what the person thinks you want in order to stop the torture. Making any information gained inherently unreliable - that's unreliable, not worthless. Meaning a constant flood of plausible information could delay the process long enough for the "subject" to die or the information you needed to become obsolete.

I might have a look to see if I can find any studies that verify what I've been told about the unreliable nature of information gained from torture, and how it's considered poor information by interrogators. But it's pretty late here and I no longer have access to where, and from who'm, I initially learned about interrogation techniques, so I it's unlikely I can produce anything more solid than Google searches at this point :(

My knowledge on the subject comes primarily from speaking with people within the security businesses, trained in and teaching interrogation techniques. And by that I mainly refer to people working towards event, systems, organization and personal protection (such as protecting heads of state or public persons needing to appear in public as well as a large organization).

I doubt any has actual experience with "get the terrorist to tell us where the bomb is", but I could be wrong on that. Hard to tell with ex military, they don't really care to share specifics with casual acquaintances or students - nor did I ever ask such specific questions, as we didn't (I think) officially bomb anyone at the time.
We still don't - at least to my knowledge - we just point to where the bomb needs to go and let the French or Americans do the actual bombing - which is kind of a dick way to remain neutral, imho. But it was, at least, how we used to roll. I'm in no better position than most people nowadays to find out where our allegiances lie, aside from being fairly sure it's still - at least in some areas - closely tied to our American partners; that we don't officially spy with and for, but really, we do. Oh my, we so do. And that pissed a lot of people of when that got out :p

Anyhow I, unfortunately, have yet to take any classes on interrogation techniques or methods - as they where not needed for my intended position. It's also been almost 7 years since I worked with security assessment, making my knowledge somewhat dated and admittedly second hand; due to not having any training or practice.
 

Laser Priest

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Well, given the absolute absurdity of the scenario OP is so desperately trying to load towards one choice, I'm going to take an equally ridiculous stance and say that instead we teach this prisoner the true meaning of Christmas so he can just tell us what we want to know.
 

kickyourass

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Look, you seem very well-intentioned, and I'm sure you thought this up genuinely wanting an honest discussion about a topic you're curious about, but you've completely kneecapped that goal in how you've presented it. Bending the situation to be so far removed from any part of this reality not only cripples any kind of useful discussion, but the way it's put together it has the possibility of making things several orders of magnitude worse. Leaving the authority in charge open and free to torture just about anyone they wish on the grounds of 'suspected to have information' and using this scenario as precedent, how much ground would you have to stand against them?

And not only is it fantastical to the point of you may as well discuss the ethics of using Dragons as beasts of war, it STILL doesn't address a host of other issues this has. Such as making the subject into a martyr "They tortured him, so they'll torture you, so make sure you kill them all or die trying" type deal. I'm not a general, I'm not even that good at Total War, but I'm pretty sure that if your actions directly cause the enemy ranks to INCREASE you've done something wrong. Or perhaps, how are you going to convince, anyone really, to side with you when YOUR people are captured and put to the same treatment, especially if THESE captors pull the same "Trying to prevent a disastrous event" card you pulled? Again what ground would you have to speak against it or convince someone that THEY are wrong in this?

And what about public sentiment, what do you do if the very people you saved, turn to you in disgust and tell you they'd have rather died than be saved by such methods? I know I would.

You see how trying to simplify a question can occasionally do nothing of the kind?
 

CrystalViolet

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Not a chance. Even if all the conditions of this hypothetical scenario were in place there would still be so many variables we could not account for eg. backlash, setting a precedent, affecting the culture of the organisation in which it's performed... It just wouldn't be worth it.

Nods Respectfully Towards You said:
I honestly don't see the big deal about water-boarding, it's pretty much the mildest form of torture out there especially when you have a doctor making sure the recipient is ok.
Respectfully, you have no clue what you're talking about. Nearly drowning is in no way comparable waterboarding. If you seriously think it's "the mildest form of torture" then you've never experienced torture.