TORTURE: ASIAN AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES | AUGUST 2012
VOLUME 01 NUMBER 03
by J. JEREMY WISNEWSKI
Several recent defenses of torture claim that those who advocate an absolutist position on torture, or on the role psychologists might play in interrogation, should change that position. As Peter Suedfeld puts it, “I believe that the arguments raised so far concerning psychologists’ participation in interrogations have been simplistic…I propose that we consider these topics as matters that require complex trade-off thinking rather than authoritarian pronouncements demanding conformity and threatening punishments” (12). This position is hardly unique to Suedfeld. Indeed, recent work by philosophers like Fritz Allhoff and Uwe Steinhoff make essentially the same claim: absolutist positions are ‘simplistic,’ and ignore the complexities involved in torture cases. Similar comments are made frequently in the media, as well as by world leaders.
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J. Jeremy Wisnewski is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hartwick College, USA and Editor of the Review Journal of Political Philosophy. He has written on a wide range of issues in moral and political philosophy. His recent theoretical work concentrates on moral perception and the relationship between ethics and phenomenology, though he continues to do research on torture and its underpinnings. His publications include Wittgenstein and Ethical Inquiry (Continuum, 2007), The Politics of Agency (Ashgate, 2008), The Ethics of Torture (with R. D. Emerick, Continuum Press, 2009), and
Understanding Torture (Edinburgh University Press, 2010). He has also recently edited (with Mark Sanders) Ethics and Phenomenology (Lexington Press, 2012).