PP0113 - Week Four

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Week 4 :: When is torture OK? (05-11 Aug.)[edit | edit source]

Torture is still commonplace in many parts of the world and constitutes a violation of human rights. The idea this week is to use the concept of torture and the movie Zero Dark Thirty to connect to more complex ideas around individual rights vs the rights of society. Again we come back to the idea of equality and the discussion around whether or not we really believe that everyone is equal.

In addition, there is evidence that torture has been (and continues to be) supported by the medical profession (see Biko to Guantanamo reading below). Amnesty International has a useful tool to learn more about the human rights abuses that happen in any part of the world. You are encouraged to make use of this tool to follow up on stories in your own country.


Questions to guide your thinking on the topic. Note that you don't have to try and answer these questions, they are simply meant to stimulate your thinking:

  1. Do you believe that some lives are more valuable than others? Does the life of a drug dealer have the same value as the life of an 80 year old? What about a small child with the potential for a full life? How do we make judgements about who gets what?
  2. If all lives are equal, then when, if ever, is torture OK?
  3. What other morally ambiguous scenarios can you come up with, where your sense of what is right may be challenged?
  4. Do you believe that those who "live by the sword", should "die by the sword"? Is "An eye for an eye" a useful criterion against which to measure our responsibility towards other human beings?

Remember to:

  1. Interact with others by reading and commenting on their work.
  2. Revisit your own work after reading what others have written.