FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Should torture ever be allowed?
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
http://www.catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=33215

DOUBLE EFFECT

"The principle that says it is morally allowable to perform an act that has at least two effects, one good and one bad. It may be used under the following conditions: 1. the act to be done must be good in itself or at least morally indifferent; by the act to be done is meant the deed itself taken independently of its consequences; 2. the good effect must not be obtained by means of the evil effect; the evil must be only an incidental by-product and not an actual factor in the accomplishment of the good; 3. the evil effect must not be intended for itself but only permitted; all bad will must be excluded form the act; 4. there must be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect. At least the good and evil effects should be nearly equivalent. All four conditions must be fulfilled. If any one of them is not satisfied, the act is morally wrong.

An example of the lawful use of the double effect would be the commander of a submarine in wartime who torpedoes an armed merchant vessel of the enemy, although he foresees that several innocent children on board will be killed. All four required conditions are fulfilled: 1. he intends merely to lessen the power of the enemy by destroying an armed merchant ship. He does not wish to kill the innocent children; 2. his action of torpedoing the ship is not evil in itself; 3. the evil effect (the death of the children) is not the cause of the good effect (the lessening of the enemy's strength); 4. there is sufficient reason for permitting the evil effect to follow, and this reason is administering a damaging blow to those who are unjustly attacking his country"
"All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary"

Torture does not pass the first two conditions and fails the double effect/proportionality test.
(04-29-2009, 04:31 PM)Texican Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-29-2009, 11:46 AM)QuisUtDeus Wrote: [ -> ]The main problem with torture is that it usually doesn't work.  Someone who can't be convinced by reasoning isn't going to be convinced by the threat of torture.  The torture has to be such that it will actually break his will, but at that point, most people will say anything just to get the pain to stop.  If you can't proceed with a reasonable belief that the torture will make a difference towards the common and greater good, then certainly you should not use it.   On the other hand, torture sometimes does work, and if the good to come from the information greatly outweighs temporary pain, then I think it could be justified.  Of course, then you have to consider how much and what kind is reasonable.  It shouldn't be any more than is necessary to get the information in the time period needed.

There are people very adept at retrieving/ verifying information through 'torture'.  Also, what is actually done, as opposed to what people normally think is done, is usually quite different.  The "tell me everything you know" scenario that is quite popular in movies, is not indicative of what professionals do, although, that is a method used by many, who think that sheer physical pain is the only way to get someone to talk.  That sadistic method, has been proven to be very ineffective, time and time again.

Immaterial in either way.

Ends don't justify means.
(04-29-2009, 04:39 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: [ -> ]http://www.catholicreference.net/index.cfm?id=33215

DOUBLE EFFECT

"The principle that says it is morally allowable to perform an act that has at least two effects, one good and one bad. It may be used under the following conditions: 1. the act to be done must be good in itself or at least morally indifferent; by the act to be done is meant the deed itself taken independently of its consequences; 2. the good effect must not be obtained by means of the evil effect; the evil must be only an incidental by-product and not an actual factor in the accomplishment of the good; 3. the evil effect must not be intended for itself but only permitted; all bad will must be excluded form the act; 4. there must be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect. At least the good and evil effects should be nearly equivalent. All four conditions must be fulfilled. If any one of them is not satisfied, the act is morally wrong.

An example of the lawful use of the double effect would be the commander of a submarine in wartime who torpedoes an armed merchant vessel of the enemy, although he foresees that several innocent children on board will be killed. All four required conditions are fulfilled: 1. he intends merely to lessen the power of the enemy by destroying an armed merchant ship. He does not wish to kill the innocent children; 2. his action of torpedoing the ship is not evil in itself; 3. the evil effect (the death of the children) is not the cause of the good effect (the lessening of the enemy's strength); 4. there is sufficient reason for permitting the evil effect to follow, and this reason is administering a damaging blow to those who are unjustly attacking his country"
"All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary"

Torture does not pass the first two conditions and fails the double effect/proportionality test.

You still haven't proven that the direct infliction of pain is inherently wrong.  Remember, in the test scenario above, the sub commander *does* intend to kill the enemy, as they are legitimate targets and killing is not inherently wrong.  I am arguing that in the ticking timebomb scenario the terrorist is a legitimate target for waterboarding (or similarly painful acts) and that the infliction of pain is not inherently wrong.  So you still haven't proven your case.  Please prove that infliction of pain is inherently wrong, or that it is wrong when done to coerce someone to provide life-saving information that they are unjustly withholding.  For these questions, you can see Fr. Harrison's review of the evidence from Scripture, tradition, and the Magisterium.  Until then, I fear you are simply begging the question.
(04-29-2009, 04:41 PM)WhollyRoaminCatholic Wrote: [ -> ]Immaterial in either way.

Ends don't justify means.

Ends cannot justify *inherently immoral means.*  I may not rape someone in order to bring about a good end, for instance.  However, there are acts whose morality depends upon consideration of circumstances and ends.  If I am on a battlefield shooting at armed enemies, my ends most certainly determine whether my means (a rifle) are proportionate or just.  If my end is legitimate self-defense, the means (killing) is justified.  If my end is to satisfy hatred, well, no means can be justified by that end.

We need to determine if the means (infliction of pain) is -- in the Church's teaching, or according to the natural law -- ever and always wrong.  If it isn't, we can discuss which ends and circumstances may justify its use.  Until these questions are answered, you are engaging in question-begging.
(04-29-2009, 03:51 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]  *IF* you define torture merely as corporal punishment, then it is hard to see how torture can be wrong for punishing the guilty. 

Corporal punishment is just that, just punishment for a crime. The criminal has been found guilty by the law. Torture is inflicting pain before the finding of any guilt before the law. There has been no judgement from lawful authority for crime. Torture is not punishment for a crime by the state but pain inflicted by one individual for a different reason.

(04-29-2009, 03:51 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]That means that there are instances where I can use pain and even injury in self-defense.  If someone is trying to drown me, I can try to drown him to save my own life.  But if I can swim away to safety after holding his head under water for only 20 seconds or so, I am supposed to let him live and save myself.  But if someone is trying to blow up a city, I cannot hold his head under water to save that city?

No, saving a city is not self defense. There is no threat against your immediate person that justifies the use of self defense.
(04-29-2009, 03:51 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]  *IF* you define torture merely as corporal punishment, then it is hard to see how torture can be wrong for punishing the guilty. 

Corporal punishment is just that just punishment for a crime. The criminal has been found guilty by the law. Torture is inflicting pain before the finding of any guilt before the law. There has been no judgement from lawful authority for crime. Torture is not punishment for a crime by the state but pain inflicted by one individual for a different reason.

(04-29-2009, 03:51 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]That means that there are instances where I can use pain and even injury in self-defense.  If someone is trying to drown me, I can try to drown him to save my own life.  But if I can swim away to safety after holding his head under water for only 20 seconds or so, I am supposed to let him live and save myself.  But if someone is trying to blow up a city, I cannot hold his head under water to save that city?

No, saving a city is not self defense. There is no threat against your immediate person that justifies the use of self defense.
Is water-boarding evil?
(04-29-2009, 03:28 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-29-2009, 03:18 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]SaintRafael,

What is the basis for your claim that torture is inherently wrong?  How are you defining "torture"?  When you cite the authority of "Catholic ethics," what is your source?  If you would like to see the testimony of Scripture, tradition, and the Magisterium, please see Fr. Harrison's examination of all the relevant sources.  

I don't care about Gaudium et Spes. It is not magisterial, but pastoral.

My source comes from the infallible Catholic moral theology of the centuries, and the Magisterium.
This truth can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church under CC # 2297, where it is listed as an offense against humanity.

The same "infallible" Catechism that teaches capital punishment is illicit in direct contradiction of previous teachings?   ::)

It is not "of the centuries".  The Church allowed specific forms of torture during the Inquisition.

Moving this thread to theological debate.
(04-29-2009, 04:58 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: [ -> ]No saving a city is not self defense. There is no threat against your immediate person that justifies the use of self defense.

What if my loved ones are in said city?  Am I not permitted to attempt to save them?
(04-29-2009, 04:58 PM)SaintRafael Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-29-2009, 03:51 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]  *IF* you define torture merely as corporal punishment, then it is hard to see how torture can be wrong for punishing the guilty. 

Corporal punishment is just that just punishment for a crime. The criminal has been found guilty by the law. Torture is inflicting pain before the finding of any guilt before the law. There has been no judgement from lawful authorirhy for crime. Torture is not punishment for a crime by the state but pain inflicted by one individual for a different reason.

(04-29-2009, 03:51 PM)Bonifacius Wrote: [ -> ]That means that there are instances where I can use pain and even injury in self-defense.  If someone is trying to drown me, I can try to drown him to save my own life.  But if I can swim away to safety after holding his head under water for only 20 seconds or so, I am supposed to let him live and save myself.  But if someone is trying to blow up a city, I cannot hold his head under water to save that city?
No saving a city is not self defense. There is no threath against your immediate person that justifies the use of self defense.

First, the Catechism says that torture may not be used for the "punishment of the guilty," a purpose listed alongside "extraction of confession."  Clearly, whoever wrote the Catechism did not define torture as you do, as he thought that certain forms of punishment inflicted *after the determination of guilt,* at the *end* of a legal process, might meet the definition.  I hardly think that John Paul II would say that the definition "torture" excludes cruel and unusual statutory punishments.  We must really ask at this point, what is the *intrinsic* difference then between corporal punishment as a sentence for crime (a sentence like flogging, for instance) and "torture"?  This sort of confusion in a non-infallible source (the Catechism) raises, I think, legitimate questions about the terminology and authority of this particular section of the Catechism.

Your second claim is simply incorrect.  What if you are in the city that might be destroyed by the bomb?  Secondly, what we may do to save our own lives we may legitimately do to save the lives of others.  If in a given scenario it is morally permissible for me to save my own life by killing another person, then in relevantly similar situations I may most certainly intervene to save another person's life by killing the aggressor.  Your reasoning here is quite weak.  

Do you admit that I may hold another person's head under water if I am doing this to save my own life?  If so, I can do so to save my neighbor's life.  And a city full of people is full of my neighbors.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13