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You'Re an Army Officer Who Has Just Captured an Enemy Solider Who Knows Where a Secret Time Bomb Is Planted. If It Explodes It Will Kill Thousands. Will It Be Morally Permissible to Torture the Solider so That He Reveals the Bombs Location?

  • Date Submitted: 10/03/2012 02:01 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41.7 
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By using Bentham's Utility theory I believe it is morally permissible to torture the enemy soldier. Bentham used the hedonic calculus to measure the amount of pleasure or pain that can come from doing a certain action. Bentham believed that punishment should only be used when it was absolutely necessary and is proportional to the offense, also both Bentham and Mill stated that people should act in a way that is most beneficial for their community/country. In this case, torturing the enemy soldier is the only possibility in finding out where the time bomb is located which will lead to saving the lives of thousands so according to Bentham and Mill's Utilitarianism it would be justifiable to torture him.

Bentham's hedonic calculus also supports this. The extent of torturing the enemy soldier is enormous as it would result in saving the lives of the thousands of people who live there, this would cause less pain than torturing one human. Hurting the soldier wouldn't last forever as the physical wounds of it would soon heal so the duration of it wouldn't last very long, however the mental scaring of the torture could stay with the enemy forever. Also you could gain other pleasures from torturing the enemy solider as by doing this you've saved thousands from their death and you've done your duty of protecting the innocent. 

In addition, we could use Mill's 'Greatest Happiness Principle' where "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong." In this situation it is likely that the majority of people would vote to torture the enemy in order to save themselves and others so it would be seen as doing the right thing. It would be considered the right thing to do based on the utility theory because even if the action is bad if the majority vote for it it's classed as good.

However, others may disagree with this because abusing the captured soldier wouldn't result in the certainty of him telling the army officer where the...


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