Is Torture Ever Justified Essay

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1567 Words
Date:  2022-05-09

Is torture justified? Suppose the Criminal Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents pin down a prominent terror suspect. In the course of an arrest, the terrorist confesses to having planted an enormous ticking bomb within one of the crowded railway stations in the metropolitan areas. In such a situation, it is logical that the terrorist would never conceal the location of the bomb under normal interrogation methods. As such, what would you do as the agent in charge? Is it worth it to risk the lives of millions for the sake of following law? The given scenario is a common construct that makes up the "ticking bomb" hypothesis, an ideology usually employed to justify the use of torture. An analysis of torture as an interrogation technique reveals why the strategy despite numerous convincing platform such as the ticking bomb hypothesis should be condemned and aborted since its application mostly violates the values and principles that humanity is built upon across every nation, even in the severity of events.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

By definition, the term torture refers to the purposeful infliction of torment and intense suffering, as an approach of compelling someone to divulge sensitive data against one's personal will(Brooks, 2015). In today's world, it is unfortunate to note that torture still exists, despite it being ruled as an illegal act, both under the international law and American constitution. One of the primary reasons why torture still thrives is because most of the state agents employ it as a tool to combat the "war on terror." Additionally, most of the supporters who favor the interrogation method argue that it offers a wide array of advanced techniques, which foster easy retrieval of sensitive data (Brooks, 2015).

Critics of torture argue that even the "ticking bomb" is a flawed ideology, crafted to capture the support of the gullible and ignorant masses (Bellaby, 2016). In a real-life scenario, the criticizers argue that there is always a context of inevitable uncertainty. Thisimplies that the terrorist could be possibly lying. Additionally, it is crucial to note that a dedicated terrorist would never reveal sensitive data about planned attacks, rather he or she would offer misleading information to hold out the security agents, until the moment their terror deeds are executed (Bellaby, 2016).

The "ticking bomb" hypothesis is a scenario that was carefully instructed with the intention of provoking the audience's mind, towards an active disinclination for torture. As a hypothesis, ticking bomb was a precisely woven puzzle that agitated for the ban on torture tactics as an impossibility (Spino& Cummins, 2014). Notably, the ticking bomb is crafted on a biased assumption of implicit variables. The first assumption holds that a significant threat can only be a bomb. Second, torture is the only practical way to extract information from a terrorist in severe times. Third, the terrorist's information is vital to avert the pending attack (Wolfendale, 2016). Based on the identified scenarios, it becomes evident why the question of torture is justifiable is a complicated argument that requires in-depth facts.

From a moral perspective, the act of considering the "ticking bomb" hypothesis in any torture discussion violates the social and internal norms crafted against inhumane treatment. Torture as an act can vividly be dissected from both deontological and consequentialperspectives, under the morality realm. Under the deontological view lens, torture is condemned, since it is considered as a cruel act, which is defined by violence and degradation of one's dignity, elements that are morally wrong (McMahan, 2016). Secondly, within the consequential construct, the inhumane act is illegal for it involves the violation of an already defenseless victim (McMahan, 2016). In most torture settings, the torturer is usually in total control of the victim as well as the surrounding environment and variables. As a result of the power, torturers can exert force and dominance over defenseless victims, an aspect that escalates the moral damnability higher.

As an act, torture defiles the dignity of an individual by compelling the victim to conceal their actions. By exposing one to acts of pain, the vulnerable party is coerced to collude against oneself as a result of their broken down emotion. From a psychological perspective, Bernstein, (2015) argues that torture, as an act is harmfulsince it compels a powerless victim to become an active complicit in their self-betrayal. Besides, it is crucial to note that torture as a process also involves brutalization of the torturer. Notably, for one to commit a cruel act, he or she is expected to forego abhorrence for violence for psychological repercussions, a process that often involves intense suffering. Cumulatively, the act of striping one's dignity, as well as that of suffering in a bid to train and strengthen for the execution of torture, is morally problematic.

Historically, torture emerged from the base of numerous conflicts that occurred across the globe. The barbaric act pioneered back in Greek and Roman during the ancient times(Steele, 2013). At the time, prisoners were forced to engage in inhumane and most horrible forms of torture as punishment, entertainment, or execution of the offender. After its prominence in the region, the tactic's applicability and replication spread over other areas across the world (Steele, 2013). Although the interrogation tactic has been spread across the globe, it has never been justified in any country.

Within the legal confines, torture has been identified to be a tabooed act under the Convention against Torture and Other Degrading Treatment held by the United Nations during the 1970's(Greer, 2015). The Torture Convention of 1984 specifically had a far-reaching impact on the technique for it condemned its application in any given scenario and to all persons. Under the Convention, Article 1 defined torture as "any pain or suffering that was physical or mentally inflicted with an intentional purpose (Greer, 2015)." Article 16 on the other hand, also "disregards degrading and inhumane punishment that does not amount to torture." Cumulatively, it is essential to note that the torture conventions do not condone exceptionality of any form of torment, in whatsoever kind of scenario ,be itin internal political disability, a threat of war, or state of war, aspects that are echoed by Article 2 of the convention (Greer, 2015).

Additionally, from a social context, two wrongs never make a right. Most supporters of torture argue that people's version of morality can be subjective; as such,torture should not be justified based on "emotions" rather than regarding net benefit (Spino& Cummins, 2014). The act of torture is barbaric is nature itself, as it involves the support for sadism and inhumane treatment of a person, elements that leave one physically traumatized and emotionally destroyed (Johnson et al., 2016). Based on this argument, it is safe to acknowledge that torture is an evil that results in the violation of any human's fundamental rights. Moreover, given that torture has been justified in various nations as an effective tool on the war on terror, it is crucial to conclude that the approach only solidifies the enemy's desire for barbarism, an aspect that is cultivated by the desire to compete.

Therefore, it is a high time that people disregard the old and conservative ways such as torture as a means of interrogation. Force and brutality have never been capable of achieving the right and lasting results even in the olden days (Houck & Repke, 2017). Additionally, it is vital to note that the interrogation method relies on the compliance of the terror suspect, an aspect that is hard to achieve, given that most of the terrorist are usually well trained for such occurrences. As such, it becomes evident that in any scenario, torture does not bear the actual results;rather it is a tool that carries constructed consequences.


To sum up, based on the sighted explanations, it is evident that torture is unjustifiable for it is moral, legal, and socially wrong. Additionally, the relationship between national security and imminent threats and torture is a predicament of sorts, to say the least, since it is problematic to justify the use of the latter as an approach to efficiently curtail the former in any setting. Torture is an interrogation approach that has always been defined by uncertainty but has used barbarism and intimidation to provoke the audience of its impeccable benefits. Cumulatively, there lacks any justification on whatsoever that endorses the utilization of torture as an effective interrogation technique, even in the "ticking bomb" scenario.


Bellaby, R. W. (2016). The ethics of torture-lite: A Justifiable Middle-Ground?International Journal of Applied Philosophy.

Bernstein, J. M. (2015). Torture and dignity: An essay on moral injury. University of Chicago Press.

Brooks, A. (2015). Torture and terror post-9/11: The role of social work in responding to torture. International Social Work, 58(2), 320-331.

Greer, S. (2015). Is the prohibition against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment 'absolute'in international human rights law?.Human Rights Law Review, 15(1), 101-137.

Houck, S. C., &Repke, M. A. (2017).When and why we torture: A review of psychology research.Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 3(3), 272.

Johnson, D. A., Mora, A., & Schmidt, A. (2016). The strategic costs of torture: How enhanced interrogation hurt America. Foreign Affairs,95, 121.

McMahan, J. (2016). Torture and method in moral philosophy.Torture, Law, and War, 1-18.

Spino, J., & Cummins, D. D. (2014). The ticking time bomb: when the use of torture is and is not endorsed. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 5(4), 543-563.

Steele, B. J. (2013). The insecurity of America: the curious case of torture's escalating popularity. In Justice, Sustainability, and Security. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Wolfendale, J. (2016). Preventing torture in counter-insurgency operations.In Ethics education for irregular warfare (pp. 75-92).Routledge.

Cite this page

Is Torture Ever Justified Essay. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism