Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bernard Chazelle on Torture

Bernard Chazelle is a left-wing blogger I read regularly.  He is a professor of Computer Science at Princeton, and writes for the blog "A Tiny Revolution".
Chazelle wrote an astonishing dissection of what the right to abortion really means morally "Is It OK to Abort Only Female Fetuses?".  Please read the whole thing.  It changed my professed view of abortion, and added great clarity.
Chazelle's new post "My Torture Memo" is not a blockbuster like his abortion post, but his view matches what I dimly comprehended myself about the morality of torture, and he wrote out his position on torture clearly and well.
These are the most important points, to me.
The best answer to the question: "Why is torture evil?" is "Because it feels evil."
Torture should be banned unconditionally, though the possibility that it might be sometimes necessary should not be ruled out. The apparent contradiction between law and morals should come as no surprise. Legality is much coarser than morality --that's not a flaw-- and the two will inevitably clash on occasion.
If you're so damn sure that torturing someone will save innocent lives, then you'd better be willing to go to prison for it.
I am very happy to have this writing to point to summarize my feelings about torture in the real world.  Morality affects the real world, or else it would not be morality.

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