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« Reasonable and Unreasonable Postmodernisms | Main | Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees Violates the Establishment Clause »

01/26/2017

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Jimbino

It baffles me that torture could be considered OK because it "works." So does genocide. For an action to be justified, it hast to both work and be moral.


Patrick S. O'Donnell

Indeed, but many Americans (and some philosophers!) are obsessed with the "does it work?" question, believing that if the answer is affirmative, the means to the end(s) are thereby morally if not legally justified. The late Christopher Hitchens appears to have considered waterboarding torture, yet nevertheless concluded that, in "our" case, the end justifies the means: "Hitchens cannot escape the grip of American exceptionalism that has so permeated his work since 9/11. 'Any call to indict the United States for torture is … a lame and diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down,' he huffs. For Hitchens, in America's pitched battle with 'tormentors and murderers,' the ends justify the means." (Michael Otterman in The Guardian some years ago)

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