Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top Ten Good Arguments Against Torture.

Yesterday I wrote about bad arguments against torture. Although I support the use of torture under certain circumstances, I do recognize the existence of strong, logical arguments against it. But for some reason they tend to be less common than weak, easily countered debating points. I'm not going to respond to these arguments here, but in the interests of balance, here are 10. 

1. The costs outweigh the benefits. Naturally the validity of this argument depends on the details, but a strong case can be made. 

2. The state cannot be trusted with the power to torture. I also recognize this as one of the strongest arguments against capital punishment. 

3. Torture corrupts and degrades the torturers. There is evidence to support this argument, and it should be of concern for anyone supporting the use of torture. 

4. Torture is a short-cut for good intelligence practices. Regardless of the intent, its use will come to be relied upon by the lazy and those seeking quick results. It will be used to confirm beliefs, rather than gather intelligence that can be independently confirmed or falsified. 

5. If torture is legalized or permitted for any reason, it will be abused. Therefore it should not be legalized or permitted. This goes along with argument #2. 

6. If we are going to torture we should have people trained and expert in its use. Do we really want a corps of torturers in the U.S.? 

7. Torture damages relations with allies and can interfere with cooperation on vital intelligence matters

8. Who decides when torture is justifiable? To whom do we wish to grant that authority?  

9. U.S. use of torture grants a certain legitimacy to the use of torture by other states

10. The use of torture damages the image of the U.S. worldwide.


  1. Torture is wrong in any way

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