Why Not Torture Terrorists?: Moral, Practical, and Legal Aspects of the Ticking Bomb Justification for Torture

Why Not Torture Terrorists?: Moral, Practical, and Legal Aspects of the Ticking Bomb Justification for Torture


By (author) Yuval Ginbar

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 232mm x 30mm | 721g
  • Publication date: 19 April 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199571236
  • ISBN 13: 9780199571239
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 701,973

Product description

This book addresses a dilemma at the heart of counter-terrorist policy: is it ever justifiable to torture terrorists in order to save the lives of others, the so-called 'ticking bomb' scenario? The book opens with an analysis of the pure moral argument from the standpoint of the individual as torturer. It then looks at the issues that arise once a state has decided to sanction torture in certain situations: how to establish factually that the situation is urgent, deciding who to torture, training people to carry out torture, and the efficacy of torture as a means of gathering information. The final part examines attempts to operate legal systems which tolerate torture; how they relate to the criminal law notion of necessity and to international human rights norms. After examining the utilitarian arguments for torture, and the impact on a society of permitting torture, the author presents a powerful argument for maintaining the absolute legal prohibition.

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Author information

Yuval Ginbar serves as a legal adviser to Amnesty International and a senior adviser to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

Review quote

Ginbar does a splendid job of revealing the weakness of the arguments he encounters,and...manages very effectively to destroy the TBS...Anyone who employs the TBS in future without starting their analysis from where Ginbar ends will not deserve to be taken seriously. International law, human rights and ethics Ginbar's book is an important contribution to the literature on torture. it is lucidly written; thoroughly researched and it provides a challenge to what I believe to be the dominant view, namely the view that the infliction of torture is sometimes permissable or even obligatory. A paperback edition of the book was published in February 2010, which contains an updating chapter, covering recent-or more recent-developments in the United States, Israel and elsewhere. Public Law Journal Issue 3 The so-called "ticking bomb" scenario is one of the more intriguing dilemmas in International Law. This book-length analysis of its comprehensive underpinnings is thus a welcome addition to the literature ASIL

Table of contents

Foreword ; Introduction ; PART I: PRIVATE MORALITY: IS IT MORALLY JUSTIFIABLE FOR AN INDIVIDUAL TO TORTURE A TERRORIST IN ORDER TO SAVE MANY INNOCENT LIVES? ; 1. Introduction ; 2. The wider moral Issue: Do consequences or 'no go areas' determine what is ethical in an extreme situation? ; 3. Consequentialist argument for torturing in a ticking bomb situation ; 4. The minimal absolutist approach I: anti-absolutism as morally untenable ; 5. The minimal absolutist approach II: Arguments for an absolute prohibition on torture ; PART II: PUBLIC, PRACTICAL MORALITY: IS IT MORALLY JUSTIFIABLE FOR A STATE TO TORTURE IN ORDER TO SAVE MANY INNOCENT LIVES? ; 6. Introduction ; 7. Is there a 'public morality' that is distinct from 'private morality'? ; 8. 'Slippery slope' and other dangers ; PART III: LEGALISING TORTURE 1 - FOUR MODELS ; 9. Introduction ; 10. The Landau model in Israel ; 11. The 'torture warrants' model ; 12. Israel's High Court of Justice model ; 13. The USA's 'high value detainees' model ; PART IV: LEGALISING TORTURE 2 - THREE ISSUES ; 14. Introduction ; 15. Is it (internationally) legal? Is it torture? ; 16. The 'defence of necessity' model as legal grounds for torture ; PART V: CONCLUSIONS