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To Torture or Not to Torture
Note: In order to fulfill this assignment, you need to have read chapters 5–7, 14 from the Holmes Ethics, Approving Moral Decisions text. If you have not done so, please stop now and read that material.
One of the ethical controversies of recent times is the practice of using torture in obtaining information from suspected terrorists or those with knowledge of terrorist activities. Some believe that the current threat of terrorism warrants such drastic means while others believe that torture is never a justifiable manner in handling prisoners of war.
Suppose a situation presents itself in which we have strong reasons to believe a major attack on U.S. soil is immanent and that many lives will be put in danger. Security forces have captured a terrorist whom they have very good reasons to believe has vital information that can lead to thwarting this attack. They have tried the usual means of obtaining information from the prisoner and none of them have been successful. His resolve not to talk is quite strong. However, security forces now consider torturing the prisoner and believe with a high degree of probability that his resolve will be broken and he will supply the needed information. Should they torture the prisoner?