Rethinking Torture : New Challenges and Moral Dilemmas
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This Master’s thesis analyzes the moral and legal grounds of the permissibility of torture. It constitutes a normative study that argues for the necessity to rethink the phenomenon of torture on a background of new challenges faced by state agents and the moral dilemmas they experience in the attempt to tackle them. It embarks on an empirical study into the practical reasoning of state agents that are in close contact with the possibility of employing torture in situations with potentially catastrophic consequences, thus permitting a valuable comparison with theory. The study was designed as a thought experiment in which respondents were asked to contemplate a number of six scenarios (inspired from real cases) that are characterized by (1) a clear threat to human life, (2) urgency, and (3) a human source of information that refuses to disclose details that can be used to avert the threat. The results highlight an important paradox of liberal democracy, which calls for the need to reconsider our ways of thinking about torture." Keywords: torture, consequentialism, deontology, moral dilemma, thought experiment.