2 of 7
2
The Morality of Torturing Muslims
Posted: 16 January 2008 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  765
Joined  2006-08-16
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 January 2008 01:39 AM

I agree with you to a certain extent, but what if your grandfather’s reason for bombing Dresden or killing the girls was that he was simply following orders?  Do the two actions then become morally equivalent?

Again, we are judging the morality of the intent, not the action. If both actions have the same intent, ie. they were just following orders, then both are morally equivalent.

[quote author=“Antisocialdarwinist”]And how can we know for sure what anyone’s intent actually is?  What if Granddad didn’t give a hoot about stopping the Nazis, he just secretly got a thrill out of killing lots of people?  Would he then be morally wrong, whereas his wingman, who was doing the exact same thing because he believed in stopping a bigger evil, would be morally right?

Isn’t that why morality is inherently subjective?

 Signature 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” - Voltaire

“Rational arguments do not work on religious people, otherwise there would be no religious people.”—Dr. House

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 January 2008 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  651
Joined  2006-12-08
camanintx - 16 January 2008 06:32 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 January 2008 01:39 AM

I agree with you to a certain extent, but what if your grandfather’s reason for bombing Dresden or killing the girls was that he was simply following orders?  Do the two actions then become morally equivalent?

Again, we are judging the morality of the intent, not the action. If both actions have the same intent, ie. they were just following orders, then both are morally equivalent.

Well, you’ve just absolved every Nazi outside of Hitler’s inner circle of any moral culpability for the holocaust.  I don’t buy that.  Any moral compass that arrives at such a conclusion is meaningless.  In my opinion.

camanintx - 16 January 2008 06:32 PM

Isn’t that why morality is inherently subjective?

I agree that morality is subjective, but not for the reason that it’s based on intent.  Intentions, good or bad, are meaningless.  Our behavior is what impacts those around us, and morality is a guide for right behavior.  Morality divorced from behavior is pointless.

 Signature 

Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 January 2008 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  765
Joined  2006-08-16
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 January 2008 06:46 PM

Well, you’ve just absolved every Nazi outside of Hitler’s inner circle of any moral culpability for the holocaust.  I don’t buy that.  Any moral compass that arrives at such a conclusion is meaningless.  In my opinion.

Where did I say that just following orders was not immoral? I only said they were equivalent. If someone was ordered to drop a bomb knowing it would only kill innocent civilians, then it would be just as immoral to follow as those who effected the holocaust. Likewise, those involved in the holocaust who were unaware of their actions were not held accountable.

[quote author=“Antisocialdarwinist”]I agree that morality is subjective, but not for the reason that it’s based on intent.  Intentions, good or bad, are meaningless.  Our behavior is what impacts those around us, and morality is a guide for right behavior.  Morality divorced from behavior is pointless.

Just to clarify my argument that intent, and not action, is the measure of morality, please answer the following questions:

1.  If I shoot at someone with the intent to kill them, is it any less immoral if I missed them?

2.  If I believe someone walking towards me in a dark alley is pointing a weapon at me, would it be immoral of me to shoot them if it turned out they were not actually holding a weapon?

In the first case, the intent is the same but the results are different. In the second, the results are the same but the intent is not. I would be surprised if you could answer yes to either of them.

 Signature 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” - Voltaire

“Rational arguments do not work on religious people, otherwise there would be no religious people.”—Dr. House

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 January 2008 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  651
Joined  2006-12-08
camanintx - 16 January 2008 07:13 PM

Just to clarify my argument that intent, and not action, is the measure of morality, please answer the following questions:

1.  If I shoot at someone with the intent to kill them, is it any less immoral if I missed them?

2.  If I believe someone walking towards me in a dark alley is pointing a weapon at me, would it be immoral of me to shoot them if it turned out they were not actually holding a weapon?

In the first case, the intent is the same but the results are different. In the second, the results are the same but the intent is not. I would be surprised if you could answer yes to either of them.

1.  Shooting at someone (I’m assuming this person poses no threat to you) is an action which is morally wrong regardless of whether you hit or missed.  It’s not the intent which makes hitting and missing morally equivalent, it’s acting on that intent.  If you intend to shoot someone, but never get around to it, are you morally wrong?

2.  It depends on what actions you took prior to pulling the trigger.  Did you say, “Stop or I’ll shoot!” or did you just start blazing away?  The use of deadly force is justified only after certain conditions have been met.  Those conditions vary depending on the situation.  Are you a soldier in Iraq, a cop in Washington D.C., or a civilian in your own home town?  Provided the requirements for using deadly force are satisfied, then it’s morally right to shoot regardless of whether your antagonist turns out to be armed.  Shooting without first satisfying the requirements for deadly force is an action which is morally wrong, regardless of what you personally believed at the time.

 Signature 

Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 January 2008 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  651
Joined  2006-12-08
Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 January 2008 01:17 PM

The difference between gassing Jewish children and torturing Muslims is that a) Jewish children were only future enemies of Germany insomuch as the Nazis were trying to exterminate them, whereas Muslims pose a threat to the West whether we torture them on not; and b) the threat Muslim terrorists pose to the West is more immediate than the threat Jewish children posed to Germany.

I’ve already been into this on the morality thread, and my thoughts about “flawed reality”, that yes indeed in the light of what the Nazi’s believes you could think they did the right thing, and to them they did. The problem is not the reason, the problem is that the reason was based on false assumptions.

I would argue that the real problem is that the Nazis acted on their flawed reality.

Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM

So every muslim will inevitably be a terrorist, no matter what we do and what happens in society? I seriously doubt this.

No, it’s not true that every Muslim will inevitably be a terrorist.  The point is that as long as Islam exists in its present form, there will continue to be terrorists, and they will become increasingly dangerous due to the availability of weapons of mass destruction.  Those Muslims who would not have become terrorists but who are nevertheless tortured are collateral damage.  And collateral damage is morally acceptable.

Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM

Christianity is the ultimate evidence that you can accomplish change. Several people on this board are living evidence that you can loose your faith through reason.

Well, if the best you can do to support your case is to hold up a few wandering sheep as “ultimate evidence,” then your case is flimsy indeed.  Plus, you’re comparing apples to oranges.  Everything I’ve seen indicates the average Muslim is even less susceptible to reason than the average Christian.  Surely you’ve seen that yourself? 

Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM

If you really read the End of Faith you will remember Harris saying that we got a decision between conversation and violence. I don’t know about you but I’d try conversation until there is no other alternative left.

And how long should we continue this one-sided conversation before we turn to more effective alternatives?  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not wait for a nuclear attack before we finally admit our conversation with Islam has run out of breath.

 Signature 

Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 01:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

[quote author=“Unbeliever” date=“1200515137]
To torture someone to change faith however will first of all not work. Thats not how you change peoples minds thats only how you make them tell you they’ve changed their minds. At best, its quite likely they would stick to their faith until their death if they truly believe their doctrine

Completely wrong.
It is through mental and physical abuse that a faith system like Islam lodges itself in the mind in the first place.

When inducing pain, an extremely strong mental dissonance is set up between holding on to your prior convictions/ideas and to discard them in order to avoid pain.
Systematic, determined use of pain infliction will generate “Stockholm syndrome” effects, and the oppressed will identify with the goals and ideas of the oppressor.

Changing behaviours and attitudes by inflicting pain is the most effective method we have at our disposal.

[ Edited: 17 January 2008 01:43 AM by arildno]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 01:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

Double, double, toils and trouble…

[ Edited: 17 January 2008 01:41 AM by arildno]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  14
Joined  2007-12-18
arildno - 17 January 2008 06:37 AM

[quote author=“Unbeliever” date=“1200515137]
To torture someone to change faith however will first of all not work. Thats not how you change peoples minds thats only how you make them tell you they’ve changed their minds. At best, its quite likely they would stick to their faith until their death if they truly believe their doctrine

Completely wrong.
It is through mental and physical abuse that a faith system like Islam lodges itself in the mind in the first place.

When inducing pain, an extremely strong mental dissonance is set up between holding on to your prior convictions/ideas and to discard them in order to avoid pain.
Systematic, determined use of pain infliction will generate “Stockholm syndrome” effects, and the oppressed will identify with the goals and ideas of the oppressor.

Changing behaviours and attitudes by inflicting pain is the most effective method we have at our disposal.


There are two types of torture. Physical and mental.

Physical torture - inflicting pain on the body - is very effective at getting people to say what you want them to say. Though, the value of the “truths” extracted is almost always questionable. Maybe it should be stated: It is effective at making people say what they think you want to hear. On changing a persons core beliefs, their worldview, their religious conviction, it sits squarely next to useless. Sam Harris has alluded to this in his books and speeches. After years of torture in Chinese prisons, many Buddhist monks come out still as Buddhist monks. Many having had their religious convictions strengthened by the ordeal. I think the evidence is strong for the notion that you will not change a persons beliefs using physical torture. The only rationale for physical torture, is the exacting of punishment/revenge for a perceived crime. And, it is immoral no matter how you try to justify it.

Mental torture - including the interrogation methods used by many police forces in the West - though far from infallable, is more effective at gathering intelligence. But can it be used to change what a person thinks? Does a burglar who believes that stealing is his livelihood think any differently after interrogation?  What about other criminals? I would think the number of re-offenders in our prison systems would suggest otherwise. In light of that, do you think it can change a persons core beliefs? Will it truly make them “renounce” their faith - not only in words but in spirit? Will it make them less of a fanatic? Less of a threat? I would argue that, like physical torture, it would probably make them more fanatical.

In fact, both physical and mental torture are used today in the Muslim world and their use is widespread. Its primary use is for the consolidation of religious power. Suggesting that what the authorities want the people to believe and what the majority of people actually believe are not the same. This, I think, is a glimmer of hope. The people are saying what they think their masters want to hear for fear of reprisals. The people who dare speak out against this are swiftly dealt with. If we can remove those threats, loosen the grip of the Islamic autocrats, then I think we can make progress.

Another factor in this scenario is the use of propaganda. Something that is, again, widely used in the Islamic world to great effect. Propaganda, the flip-side of the coin of torture, is far more effective at changing someone’s worldview. This is where victory lies in this “clash of civilisations”. It is also where the danger lurks, because if the Islamic propaganda machine succeeds then we really will have 1.3+ billion psychopaths out to kill us. The way to combat this is politically complex, but essentially it involves removing their ability to distribute this inhumane propaganda and at the same time flooding the Muslim world with our own propaganda.

I see no moral difficulty with the use of propaganda to change people’s beliefs. The use of mental torture for the extraction of information, though not wholely reliable, can be morally justified “for the greater good” of our civilisation. The use of physical torture, though, cannot and should not be justified.

 Signature 

Lord save us!
(from Your followers)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26
godsux - 17 January 2008 11:58 AM
arildno - 17 January 2008 06:37 AM

[quote author=“Unbeliever” date=“1200515137]
To torture someone to change faith however will first of all not work. Thats not how you change peoples minds thats only how you make them tell you they’ve changed their minds. At best, its quite likely they would stick to their faith until their death if they truly believe their doctrine

Completely wrong.
It is through mental and physical abuse that a faith system like Islam lodges itself in the mind in the first place.

When inducing pain, an extremely strong mental dissonance is set up between holding on to your prior convictions/ideas and to discard them in order to avoid pain.
Systematic, determined use of pain infliction will generate “Stockholm syndrome” effects, and the oppressed will identify with the goals and ideas of the oppressor.

Changing behaviours and attitudes by inflicting pain is the most effective method we have at our disposal.


There are two types of torture. Physical and mental.

Physical torture - inflicting pain on the body - is very effective at getting people to say what you want them to say. Though, the value of the “truths” extracted is almost always questionable.

Nope.
Remember that confessions of witchcraft necessarily had to be unreliable for the very simple fact that witchcraft doesn’t exist.

However, torture was extremely effective in uncovering treason plots, like that of Guy Fawkes and innumerable others.
That is why states used it.

They were fully aware of the possibility of false testimonies, but could readily make trick questions they already knew the answer to as a control measure.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26
godsux - 17 January 2008 11:58 AM
arildno - 17 January 2008 06:37 AM

[quote author=“Unbeliever” date=“1200515137]
To torture someone to change faith however will first of all not work. Thats not how you change peoples minds thats only how you make them tell you they’ve changed their minds. At best, its quite likely they would stick to their faith until their death if they truly believe their doctrine

Completely wrong.
It is through mental and physical abuse that a faith system like Islam lodges itself in the mind in the first place.

When inducing pain, an extremely strong mental dissonance is set up between holding on to your prior convictions/ideas and to discard them in order to avoid pain.
Systematic, determined use of pain infliction will generate “Stockholm syndrome” effects, and the oppressed will identify with the goals and ideas of the oppressor.

Changing behaviours and attitudes by inflicting pain is the most effective method we have at our disposal.


There are two types of torture. Physical and mental.

Physical torture - inflicting pain on the body - is very effective at getting people to say what you want them to say. Though, the value of the “truths” extracted is almost always questionable.

Nope.
Remember that confessions of witchcraft necessarily had to be unreliable for the very simple fact that witchcraft doesn’t exist.

However, torture was extremely effective in uncovering treason plots, like that of Guy Fawkes and innumerable others.
That is why states used it.

They were fully aware of the possibility of false testimonies, but could readily make trick questions they already knew the answer to as a control measure.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1763
Joined  2006-08-20
Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 January 2008 01:17 PM

I’d like to see a specific example of your obvious alternatives before I buy this.

Reasoning. If you really read the End of Faith you will remember Harris saying that we got a decision between conversation and violence. I don’t know about you but I’d try conversation until there is no other alternative left.

Hey unbeliever,

We’re on the same page here.

 Signature 

The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind, the ants are blowing in the wind.

Dog is my co-pilot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  14
Joined  2007-12-18
arildno - 17 January 2008 01:01 PM

Nope.
Remember that confessions of witchcraft necessarily had to be unreliable for the very simple fact that witchcraft doesn’t exist.

However, torture was extremely effective in uncovering treason plots, like that of Guy Fawkes and innumerable others.
That is why states used it.

They were fully aware of the possibility of false testimonies, but could readily make trick questions they already knew the answer to as a control measure.

The case of witchcraft is an interesting one. Of course, all the confessions were false, but at the time they were believed to be true, by the general population and by the Church. Thousands of people lost their lives through the “truths” extracted by torture. Through torture, the authorities got the results they were expecting to get. For the simple reason that a person will say anything if they think it will make the pain stop.

The effectiveness of torture in the uncovering of treason plots is up for debate. How many of those confessions were of the same kind of “truth” as the witchcraft confessions?  It was a very paranoid world in those days (A paranoia that seems to be mirrored in the Bush administration). One thing to remember about the judicial systems of Tudor and Stuart Britain is that if you were arrested on charges of treason, you knew it was very likely that you were going to come out of there at least a head shorter than when you went in. The real question was how long it was going to be before they finally put you out of your misery. If a confession of guilt would bring a quick death, would you not do it?

As for the Guy Fawkes gang, torture might have uncovered the plot - though you could argue that that’s because they arrested the right people - but do you think it changed any of their beliefs? Did it show them the error of the Catholic cause and highlight the value of living under the Anglican Church? I think it’s more probable that they all died Catholics thinking themselves martyrs in the war against the heretic Anglicans. Which is probably how a Muslim would see it.  Being tortured and dying a martyr for Allah in the war against the infadel West.

States use torture for intimidation.  It is to instill fear in the ranks of the enemy, nothing more.  Using it to gather “truth” is wishful thinking at best. You might as well walk out into a busy street, cover your eyes and fire a gun; whoever gets hit is “guilty” of any charge you wish to think up.

 Signature 

Lord save us!
(from Your followers)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  14
Joined  2007-12-18

sorry.  double post

[ Edited: 17 January 2008 10:12 AM by godsux]
 Signature 

Lord save us!
(from Your followers)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  892
Joined  2007-12-04
Antisocialdarwinist - 16 January 2008 01:17 PM

I would argue that the real problem is that the Nazis acted on their flawed reality.

Well.. Yes, if they had not acted on it nothing would had come to pass, but to focus on the acting takes focus away from the important aspect. Which is their beliefs. Because, given what they believed, within that belief they acted fully rational, and indeed the “flawed belief” actually did nearly inevitably lead to action because you are going to act based on the reality your perceive. Hence it is always important to do all you can to question your own motives, and your own assumptions. Because the problem is that when you are holding a flawed view of reality, you will by definition not know it. otherwise you would not hold it.
So the Nazi’s would not had been able to distinguish automatically that their actions were wrong, and indeed the most striking thing by testimonies from SS personnel who worked in the concentration camps is their tenancy to answer that at the time they believed their actions to be justified.

Whats further more disturbing is how “normal” these people were in every other respect. During Nuremberg interrogations with Rudolf Höss for example, the judge later testified to being shocked by how rational the man seemed, how calm, and well average. He seemed like anyone else, and most Nazi’s were disturbingly just like anyone else.
Unfortunately our post war society has been way too eager to shrug these people off as “evil” to actually learn something important from this tragedy. Until we acknowledge that any one of us could had been herding people into the gas chambers, had we been brought up there, and believed what they believed, we will never prevent it from happening again.

The key to all of this is to develop a culture of thinking where we question our assumptions almost intuitively, where we make a habit of never getting to complacent about what we assume about the world.

Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM

No, it’s not true that every Muslim will inevitably be a terrorist.  The point is that as long as Islam exists in its present form, there will continue to be terrorists, and they will become increasingly dangerous due to the availability of weapons of mass destruction.  Those Muslims who would not have become terrorists but who are nevertheless tortured are collateral damage.  And collateral damage is morally acceptable.

That sounds very much like inquisition mentality to me.
Yes, there will undoubtedly be many more terrorists and many more martyrs. Sadly we may very well have to use force on day, on a large scale. I am by no means against the use of force against radical Islam, even with collateral damage BUT only when the day comes where that is the only option. Because it would mean killing a lot of people who have nothing to do with it, or who could turn out to get out of their faith eventually trough reasoning. I don’t think anyone has the right to take a life except in self defense, so then before thats done everything should be made to ensure that it really is the last option, and to as much extent as possible only those who are genuinely attacking us should die.

But if the day would come where we had to level the entire middle east with nukes, or see the free world leveled. It would not take me a moment of hesitation to press the red button. No matter how horrible the results and how many innocent deaths. But again, that suggests it is the only option left.

Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM

Well, if the best you can do to support your case is to hold up a few wandering sheep as “ultimate evidence,” then your case is flimsy indeed.  Plus, you’re comparing apples to oranges.  Everything I’ve seen indicates the average Muslim is even less susceptible to reason than the average Christian.  Surely you’ve seen that yourself?

Of course, that has very little to with Islam in my opinion though and very much to do with social structure.
I think its obvious, Christianity was the same once as Islam is now. Its fairly easy to be unconvinced by reasoning if you live in a place where you don’t receive any criticism for believing nonsense. Secular society has forces Christianity to where it is today. Now, ask yourself the question, from where we stand today. Would it had been a good idea to nuke Medieval Europe?
My argument is certainly not flimsy, you are the one arguing that its better to torture people because they can impossibly ever change their mind any other way. Simple observation tells me otherwise, how thats a flimsy argument is beyond me.

Unbeliever - 16 January 2008 03:36 PM

And how long should we continue this one-sided conversation before we turn to more effective alternatives?  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not wait for a nuclear attack before we finally admit our conversation with Islam has run out of breath.

Thats something we can agree on, and reasoning is not all that needs to be done, the middle eastern societies need some help on their secularization.
But there is a time for a preemptive strike, and its certainly not yet.

[ Edited: 17 January 2008 10:44 AM by Unbeliever]
 Signature 

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 January 2008 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2006-12-26

1. On the whole, confessions given “freely” aren’t the slightest more reliable than those given under torture. Ask your neighbourhood cop.

2. You forget that whereas the interrogators in witchcraft cases were priests holding strong delusions about the world, the interrogators in civil cases would typically be down-to-earth military men. They would be perfectly well aware that torture is not an end-all, but would use control questions to probe the veracity of the statements gained.
(For example, withholding crucial information only a perpetrator would know, and ask questions about this in subtle ways)

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 7
2
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed