Torture and Dick Cheney’s Moral Calculations…

I just purchased Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?  On an NPR program today, Sandel had some interesting comments on  Dick Cheney’s moral calculations on torture and the limits of the same.  Before discussing those comments, let me first set the stage for them.

Sandel is a philosphy professor at Harvard University.  He specializes in Moral Philosphy AKA Ethics.  Dick Cheney is a policitian.

In Dick Cheney’s moral calculation if torture “saves lives” torture is not just permissible, it is a moral imperitive.  Like really good teachers, Sandel asks questions that helps one understand the limitations of one’s argument.  His question was, “if torture is good and the only way to get our Arab captive to tell us where the bombs are, it is necessary to torture his 12 year daughter – be aware, she has no idea where the bombs are located, but torturing her will have an impact on our captive – in this case, is torture permissible?”  Sandel believes that even Cheney might blanch at that thought (I’m not so sure, however).

This link is to a lecture series done by Sandel: .  An interesting detail:  supposedly some of the writers for The Simpsons took Sandel’s class – Sandel is the model for the character Mr. Burns.  I am assuming that Mr. Burns is Sandel’s evil twin – they do look, at least a little, alike.


Filed under torture

7 responses to “Torture and Dick Cheney’s Moral Calculations…

  1. Now that I am re-reading this post, doesn’t it seem more likely that Dick Cheney was the model for Mr. Burns?

    The both have bad hearts that are small and black, they both snarl well, and their “ethics” are very similar…

  2. Nah… Smithers is a WAY TOO sympathetic character; Scooter is not.

  3. tosmarttobegop

    I have never met someone who could not rationalize what they have done in some fashion.
    No matter what they have done, one person who was charged with 1st degree murder told me it was self defense. In his mind it truly was, he had shot a bar maid at the bar in Derby had had just robbed.

    His mindset was, He had robbed the bar and was heading toward the front door when she pulled a gun and started shooting at him. So he had no choice but to turn and shoot her to save his life.

    Yes there was the nail being hit on the head as to how Cheney justifies the violation of the law, the Constitution and moral standards. The torture and the disregard of the Constitution was needed to save lives.

    Though there has not been any factual evidence that there were any “ticking time bombs”.
    Something I heard the other day was that KSM was told soon after his arrest that his family would be killed if he did not talk.

    • lilacluvr

      I am thinking that a terrorist would already know that he will be threatened with his family being killed if he did not talk if and when he gets captured.

      If the terrorist does not know this, then perhaps he is in the wrong business?

  4. lilacluvr

    When it comes to torture, I think sitting through a GOP convention or one of those tea parties would be torture for me.

    And definitely if I had to sit through a 5 minute Palin speech.

    You betcha!