Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Toward a just war theory . . . of torture?

I do not subscribe to the theory that torture is only torture if it leaves lasting scars.  Even if I did, William Saletan explains why mental torture is still torture.  Key quote: "You can't torture the mind without altering the brain."

And then there's this: Bobby Eberle, on the GOPUSA blog, asks "Mr. Obama, how far would you go to save an American life?"  My own answer: "probably not as far as you would, Mr. Eberle, thank God."  More interestingly, in the post he recounts a conversation with Deal Hudson about whether torture can ever be justified under Catholic teaching.  Here's the excerpt:

In addressing "torture," Hudson put it in the context of the "just war" philosophy.

Hudson: As with just war theory, there must be a clear threat; there must be reasonable chance for success; there must be a reasonable use of force (in the case [of torture] death or impairment should never be the result), and the consequences should not cause greater harm.

Hudson further explained to me that "the precise issue is whether or not the state can inflict suffering in order to protect the common good.  If we say 'yes,' the circumstances have to be tightly prescribed."

Assuming the quote is accurate, does anyone know what Deal Hudson is talking about?  Is there any tradition of applying a just war framework to torture?


Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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