Philosophers on Torture

Philosophers on Torture


The Report on the C.I.A.’s Use of Torture from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was released several days ago. As we have occasionally done in the past for other events, I would like to open a spot here at Daily Nous for comment on the report, for collecting links to commentary elsewhere from philosophers on this report, for suggestions of philosophical or philosophically-related work on torture that are particularly worth looking at, and for a general discussion.

To start, Robert Paul Wolff has commented at his blog. Below are five lessons he draws from the report:

  1. contrary to oft-repeated statements by public commentators who claim to be shocked and appalled by the revelations, this is in fact who we are as a nation.it is who we have been since the nation was founded on the labor of enslaved africans.  vastly larger numbers of americans than non-americans have been tortured in the past four hundred years by and with the complete legal approval first of the separate colonies and then of the states and the federal government. 
  2. the actions of the united states government were in violation of u.s. law and treaties signed by the united states government.everyone involved is patently guilty of major crimes. 
  3. no one will be indicted, tried, convicted, or punished for those crimes.
  4. by its refusal to hold anyone legally accountable for the torture, or even to fire people still in government employ who were involved in the torture, president obama and the obama administration make themselves complicit in the actions of their predecessors.
  5. no one will pay any political price for having participated in the torture, or for having failed to prosecute those who did.

 (art: detail from “Devil’s Rope” by Andrew Effendy)

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