Monday, May 11, 2009

Should we care whether torture works?

Joshua Tucker asks some very good questions. If we found some hard evidence that torture works, should we report the results? And if we're not prepared to do that, should we be conducting this evidence in the first place? What's the proper social science approach?

Charli Carpenter agrees that social scientists should not be in the business of supressing inconvenient findings, but then adds,
But this whole discussion misses the mark. Torture probably does work occasionally. But so what? The whole point of the anti-torture regime is to stay the Inquisitor's hand even when it's in our interest to torture. If we only refused to torture when/if there was no conflict with our self-interest, the rule would be unnecessary. Torture is wrong because it's wrong, not because it's never effective.
Um, yeah. Chopping off the hands of thieves probably does deter petty crime. That doesn't mean we should do it.


lidzville said...

Define "works."

Seth Masket said...

"Produces accurate and useful information that other interrogation methods will not produce."