Re: MD md death penalty

From: Simon Knight (
Date: Fri May 25 2001 - 17:37:01 BST

Yes, I think Pirsig's reasoning against capital punishment is what is good.

But I'm interested in how the MOQ works its way through less clear cut

Namely torture in this instance, although I'm also wondering what the MOQ
says about warfare.

As for torture:
The European Convention on Human Rights states in Article 3 (an absolute
right which cannot be departed from in any situation, including war or
national emergency):
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment"

In 1971, the UK was found in breach of this by reason of having subjected
about 12 men with suspected IRA knowledge or links to the 'five techniques'
(these being - deprivation of sleep, deprivation of food, constant loud
hissing noise, wearing a black hood covering the head, and being forced to
maintain an uncomfortable position for hours on end. With intermittent
interrogation). Not surprisingly this was considered "inhuman treatment".

But, the techniques worked, and a lot of information was garnered about
terrorist activities, most probably saving the lives of many innocent

On a utilitarian view of ethics, the policeman involved were doing GOOD. On
an individual rights-based view, they were doing BAD. So, how does the MOQ
work its way through this ethical quagmire?

Y: It had social quality, maintained solely at the biological expense of
those interrogated. No intellects were terminated, so it was a good thing,
Z: No, it was a bad thing, intellects may not have been terminated, but they
were scarred to save quality.
Y: But scarring those intellects undoubtedly saved many innocent intellects
from being terminated. And besides, those scarred weren't exactly innocent.
Z: They may not have been wholly innocent, but no social goal justifies
damaging intellect so inhumanely.
X: And think of the destabilising effect on the social level when such
treatment became public knowledge.
Y: You're both wrong, lives were saved, that's got to be a higher
intellectual good than stopping 12 people from being hurt a bit.
X: But did it actually save lives?

Just curious how to work through this (without having to split myself into
even more personalities to argue it with ;))


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