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Volume 27 • Number 4

October 2013



Defensive Interrogational Torture and Epistemic Limitations

by Bradley J. Strawser

The philosophical debate over the ethics of torture has taken on new vigor of late with the publication of several books on the topic by a handful of accomplished moral philosophers. In this essay, I will discuss some epistemic issues surrounding the decision to torture and how those complexities should inform the debate over its moral permissibility in practice. To that end, I will focus on Frances Kamm's Ethics for Enemies: Terror, Torture, and War; Fritz Allhoff's Terrorism, Ticking Time-Bombs, and Torture; Uwe Steinhoff's On the Ethics of Torture; and Stephen Kershnar's For Torture: A Rights-Based Defense. All of these authors defend that torture can sometimes be justified, at least in principle. Most of them go on to explicitly defend that torture can also be permissible in practice in some actual, real-world cases.

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ISSN: 2152-0542