Monday, April 27, 2009

Defining and Condemning Torture: What It Is, Why It's Wrong

In December 2005 Charles Krauthammer--likely our country's clearest and most persuasive pundit--penned a provocative piece arguing against John McCain's proposal for a complete ban on torture. In response, Joe Carter (now the web editor for First Things) and I convened an online symposium to respond to this essay. Respondents were Darrell Cole, John Jefferson Davis, Daniel Heimbach, Mark Liederbach, Kenneth Magnuson, Albert Mohler, Richard John Neuhaus, and Robert Vischer. (All the essays can be downloaded in one Word file.)

Torture, of course, is back in the news. Christopher Tollefsen, Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina, has now written a clear and helpful piece from a natural law perspective. He argues that if torture involves intentionally damaging someone's bodily or personal integrity, then it is intrinsically wrong, which means that no consequentialist arguments for it can be valid. Read the whole thing to see his arguments and qualifications. It's an important essay.