In Contemporary Debates on Terrorism. London: Routledge. pp. 159-165 (2012)

Bob Brecher
University of Brighton
Even people who think torture is justified in certain circumstances regard it - to say the least - as undesirable, however necessary they think it is. So I approach the issue by analysing the extreme case where people such as Dershowitz, Posner and Walzer think torture is justified, the so-called ticking bomb scenario. And since the justification offered is always consequentialist - no one thinks that torture is in any way “good in itself” – I confine myself to consequentialist arguments. That is to say, I take the argument on its own terms, since any non-consequentialist objection to torture merely invites the response, ‘So much the worse for non-consequentialism’: if a moral theory insists that torture is wrong even if it would save thousands of lives that just shows how wrong the theory is . I focus only on the question of the moral justifiability of torture in the ‘ticking bomb’ case, and do not not ask whether, even if admittedly immoral, it should nonetheless be legalised (see Brecher, Torture and the Ticking Bomb, Wiley-Blackwell 2007)). My main argument is in two parts: (1) the “ticking bomb” scenario falls apart when analysed; and (2), even if it did not, the likely consequences of permitting torture would be worse than the bomb’s going off. Finally I briefly consider a genuine case. Further questions and readings are appended
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,959
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The "Ticking Bomb": A Spurious Argument for Torture.Bob Brecher - 2012 - Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives 1 (1):30-38.
The Moral Justifiability of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment.Michael Davis - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (2):161-178.
Tragic Choices: Reaffirming Absolutes in the Torture Debate.Christopher W. Tindale - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (2):209-222.
Tortured Knowledge: Epistemological Problems with Ticking-Bomb Cases.Eric M. Rovie - 2009 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2):315-333.
Dirty Hands and the Romance of the Ticking Bomb Terrorist: A Humean Account.Christopher J. Finlay - 2011 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (4):421-442.
Tortured Ethics.Matthew R. Silliman & David Kenneth Johnson - 2007 - Social Philosophy Today 23:211-222.
The Defense of Necessity and Powers of the Government.Youngjae Lee - 2009 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 3 (2):133-145.
For Interrogational Torture.Stephen Kershnar - 2005 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (2):223-241.


Added to PP index

Total views
365 ( #27,889 of 2,504,809 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #140,251 of 2,504,809 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes