Philosophy, Ethics, Consequentialism: Would it be morally acceptable to torture someone if this were the only way in which we could obtain information that would save thousands of lives? Defend...

Philosophy, Ethics, Consequentialism: Would it be morally acceptable to torture someone if this were the only way in which we could obtain information that would save thousands of lives? Defend your answer and explain what the implications of your answer are for the truth of consequentialism.

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gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This philosophical question deals with the ethics of whether one life is worth less than thousands of lives. What exactly is the value of life?

It is a moral dilemma; while all lives are equal, do we value more lives preserved as a better outcome? I would not support the idea that thousands of lives are worth more than one and if one has to be taken away (or tortured in this case) and it could save thousands, I would not support the position. 

One question we must answer while taking the stand is the consequences of this action. While immediate gratification is obtained if thousands are saved, the issue remains the relative value of life. If one tortured is acceptable, would ten be? Would 100 be for saving a 1000? And the suffering of that one fated individual may result in sufferings of many others. What if the tortured retaliate, how about loss of life then? An example is the ongoing war between the Western world and Islamic terrorist groups (esp. ISIS and the Taliban), where both sides have tortured and killed people to save what they perceived as thousands. In effect, both sides have lost thousands.

Gandhi said "An eye for an eye leaves the world blind." Isn't that what this situation will lead to?

level6english11's profile pic

level6english11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

It depends on how you look at it. If you think that 1000 lives is worth more than just 1, than absoloutely of course. However, if you think that all lives have the same purpose and the same value then i have the answer for you.

Surely, if you think that all lives have the same or similiar purpose and value than maybe try find another way. 

What's stopping you getting the information without using the method of torture?

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