Can Torture be Justified?

Recently, Americans were polarized over a report which detailed torture techniques used by the government to interrogate terrorism suspects. Many were aghast at the inhumane treatment of US prisoners and infuriated that these acts were done in their name. Others argued that the torture was justified, that enemy fighters deserve it, and that it was needed to save innocent lives.

In the past, Christopher Hitchens agreed to undergo waterboarding so he could personally attest to whether or not it was torture. He lasted only a matter of seconds on two different occasions before “tapping out”, and came out vocally against the use of such techniques. On the other side, we’ve seen Sam Harris author an articled titled “In Defense of Torture”, where he lays out scenarios in which he feels that torture may be justified.

In this clip from our REASON discussion, Prototype Atheist answers a question about torture, and if it is ever acceptable.

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