Torture Essay Example

Torture can be viewed as a practice or action of causing ruthless pain on a defenceless person to force him to say or do something or as a form of punishment or even for contentment of the person inflicting the pain. Torture of one person by another is an abhorrent act. Torture can as well be viewed as a deliberate and sustained assault on human being’s integrity with physical and mental demise of the person as well as destruction of his senses of trust. Torture or rendition to carry out torture by surrogate states is a political oppression, or product of conflict and a crime within any social society. Torture includes practices like electric shock treatment to the genitals or other parts, burning at stake, searing with hot objects, severe beating, denying food, or water, and cutting out some body parts such as genitals or tongue among others (Allhoff, 2003). The practices presuppose that the torturer controls the body of the victim for a certain time. Torture is always viewed as immoral and horrific and therefore cannot be justified. It is a demoralizing act or practice that has no respect for human beings’ life and dignity. However, there have been counter-arguments that torture can be justified in some extreme circumstances in an effort to save and assist the human life. This essay will discuss on various justification that are drawn concerning the torture. It will also try to justify the statement “Torture is an evil so profound that NOTHING could morally justify its use” in the conclusion.

Torture practices are very inhuman actions that are in some instances fatal. These practices are known to cause torturer become increasingly blood thirsty while they become more of primitive beings as they undertake and practice techniques that are lethal, threatening ethical standards of human beings. This does not lead to the achievement of moral practices. This is because non-primitive actions and torture cannot lead to the achievement of morality (Bagaric & Clarke, 2007).

Series of torture on the suspect usually leads to the victim giving out an arbitrary answer so as to get relieved the pain he is undergoing. This is regardless whether he knows or he does not know whereby majority of those answers are false. During the extreme situation, the interrogator is under intense pressure hence he uses any intensive technique of torture which does not guarantee the answer. He may go to an extent of killing a life so as to make the accused talk. It is obvious that under stress and pressure, people make fatal mistakes hence an interrogator can make a mistake leading to a loss of life at his hands. People can say anything or even implicate others when they are put under intensive pressure due to torture. The moral credibility is usually undermined due to the use of torture, this makes a big lie for those who use torture and still claim that they stand for decency or democracy. Torture damages the image of a person and country as well as undermining our credibility and that of the country (Bagaric & Clarke, 2007). People will lie or say something in an effort to stop pain when they are exposed to physical torture.

Torture is a poor technique because its results are unreliable and is likely to damage the efforts of collecting information and can even induce the source to say whatever the one interrogating wants to hear. Therefore, this can justify that torture is a waste of time under extreme cases hence unjustified. In some instances, torture is seen as to favour racism hence unjustified. This can be viewed in a situation whereby the U.S. tortures a suspected Muslim as Muslims were involved in the 9/11 attack hence a believe they are causes or roots of terrorism. Cases of torture favouring racism are numerous within United States such as at Guantanamo Bay where Al-Qaeda suspects are held and tortured in some instances and Virginia Tech Massacre, as we do not trust Asians in some instances (Allhoff, 2003). Equality results to justification but it is destroyed by racism hence torture is not justifiable.

Torture is an evil that cannot be justified at any instance as it creates more enemies than allies. It does not at any instance create allies who are righteous but only those who are thirsty of more blood as well as wishing to spread the torture evils. Torture turns our supporting groups or those neutral into enemies. Such can be illustrated by the way US in the way it tortures prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that leads to creation of more enemies in areas like Middle East who ends up insulting US for insulting their belief (Allhoff, 2003). According to Washington post, thousands of enemies are created as a result of torture. This can be illustrated when U.S. bombs Pakistan northern border where both civilians and Taliban live leading to loss of life especially among the civilians. This torture by massive bombings results to some civilians hating United States. This drives them to join the Taliban in an effort to revenge for the death of their relatives dying as a result of US bombings. This definitely results to more enemies due to the act of torture that is undertaken (Allhoff, 2003). Therefore, this support the fact that torture is unjustifiable.

Torture in all instances violates the democratic belief through stripping away the human rights. This is in contrary to democracy advocate that calls for equality to all people as torture devalues and violates the humanitarian ideas. Torture does not at any point produce accurate information, safety, or security. Torture has devastating effects that are either short term or long term. Such include as stated earlier the increase of number of enemies and the perception they develop to those practising the torture on their life (Kershnar, 2005). Those affected will try to seek for revenge due to the pain they underwent through their life and process of torture. Torture leads to development of a certain image to a particular group of people or nation. Restriction and violation of rights to other people through torture is unjustifiable. The long term effects of torture that makes the affected feel unsatisfactory while inflicting pain on both sides.

According to teachings of the church, torture is never permissible even with the gravest reasons. There should not at any point where the torture should be practiced by anyone within the world according to the views of the church to torture. Torture is an evil act that dehumanises and acts according to the bible teachings. Torture’s only intentions are to erode the moral standards as well as demoralize the psychological happiness of people’s mind through great suffering. Therefore, it should not at any point be justified. According to Catholic Church, torture is intrinsically evil and should not be justified by anyone anywhere.

Many people have strongly suggested that torture is a major evil when compared to murder or killing. Michael Davis claimed that both (premature) death and torture are extremely great evils and in case there is any great evil than the other, it is definitely torture according to him (Davis 2005, p.165). David Sussman also argued that despite the fact that there is a strong moral presumption against the torturing and killing of a human being, there seems that presumption against torture is taken to be even greater than that which is against murder (Sussman 2005, p. 25). It is clear that torturers do not have power to life or death of their victims.

Torture takes an individual’s world and conscious entirely due to its extreme pain and their asymmetrical power relationship to the torturer; the victim of torture is always powerlessness. Certainly, taking into account the extreme suffering, a victim undergoes through and the consequential loss of autonomy, the victim wishes and assumes that it would be better if he was dead other than alive during that period. Torture should not at any point be subjected to any human being within the society (Kershnar, 2005). This is against the morals of the society and it clearly indicates the lack of human respect to one another. This is because it is God who gives life and it is God who takes away hence no human being at any point should be allowed to mess up or play around with the life of other people.

Although Torture is an evil that should not be permissible, they are some two circumstances under which it is said that it can be practiced. One such circumstance is ticking time bomb. This is when the life of innocent people is at stake and the captured person has the information that can save the life of those in danger, and he refuses to reveal the information required (Brecher, 2008). In such a situation, the choice available can then be used. According to John McCain who has admirably opposed the actions of Torture, he openly agrees that under such circumstances, one can do what you have to do and then undertake the responsible actions. According to this, an action can be seen as moral in case it produces a net gain in terms of happiness for all those involved. This tries to acknowledge that torture can be moral in some instances (Bagaric & Clarke, 2007).

The second circumstance to the no-torture rule is when there is need to get information from a high-value enemy who possesses information of high value that is likely to save many lives of innocent people. However, this case does not have black-and-white clarity of the scenario of the ticking time bomb. We know little about the fuse length or the next attack nature although we know that the danger is immense. However, it is stated that an action is required although the way or the method of action is not known until the information is acquired (Bagaric & Clarke, 2007).

In conclusion, according to definition and illustration of torture stated earlier, they are two great things that are clearly manifested that indicate or justifies that torture is morale wrong. First, the torture intentionally inflicts pain and severe physical suffering that hurts badly. Therefore, this concludes that torture is an evil thing. Secondly, human beings torture comprises in part substantial and intentional limitation of individual autonomy. Taking into consideration the moral importance of the autonomy, torture thus can be considered as an evil thing. In some instances, torture involves breaking of somebody’s will. In maximalist sense, this is even greater evil especially in the maximalist sense. Furthermore, torture can be viewed to be in the same level with killing or murder. Given such situations, there is no doubt that torture is an evil that cannot be morally justified.


Allhoff, F, (2003). Terrorism and Torture, International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 17 (1), 105–118.

Bagaric, M. & Clarke, J. (2007). Torture: When the Unthinkable is Permissible. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Brecher, B. (2008). Torture and the Ticking Bomb. Oxford: Blackwell.

Davis, M. (2005). The Moral Justification of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 19 (2), 161–78.

Kershnar, S. (2005). For Interrogational Torture, International Journal of Applied Philosophy, 19(2), 223–241.

Sussman, D. (2005). What’s Wrong with Torture? Philosophy and Public Affairs, 33: 1– 33.