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Lecture 10

SOC203 Lecture 10.docx

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SOC203: MARCH 18 TORTURE: Weber vs. Durkheim  Lukes Beginning of article takes a jab at certain philosophers to even to consider whether or not torture is wrong. That we shouldn’t even raise the question because it leads it open into question of immorality. Says we should all have good faith when it comes to politics. Presumes that we can act in good faith in politics and Lukes says it may not be that the very fact of a political leader may be to make unethical decisions. And those who don’t know this, need to grow up a little bit. 1. Torture: some recent examples  US military intelligence in Iraq o Forms of torture: forced to stay in stress positions, hitting, etc.  From Philippines mid 90’s Source: Washington Post o Through torture, were able to extract valuable information to prevent events o Practical interrogation; turned over information and the guy to US 2. Torture as concept  The essential concept: inflicting excruciating pain  Private individuals can inflict excruciating pain to others; i.e. sadistic individuals who kidnap someone, put them into a hiding spot and torture them o Here we’re talking about criminal torture, not by a state though o This is not the type of torture that Lukes is going to argue about  Example: Colonial Algeria, France engaged in systematic torture  The Israelis  will catch opponents to regime and engage in torture  Peruvian novelist ‘Vargas Llosa’ ‘Feast of the Goat’ o Describes corruption of capital o Intent by certain military men to assassinate someone, fail, and they get tortured  Can be engaged by individuals or by the State  Torture can be psychologically painful 3. Can torture be justified?  Central question that Lukes is asking: are the circumstances under liberal democratic states justify torture? o Some believe torture is wrong in all circumstances o There’s also people in civil society (i.e. Amnesty International) who is opposed to all forms of torture  Consider ticking bomb argument: authority has a suspect in custody, authority has reason to believe that an attack will happen and the suspect knows when. Possibility of getting the information and disarming the bomb. o Torture could be justified? Weighing an evil (torture) against something worse (loss of dozens of innocent lives)  would it make sense morally in such a situation to engage in torture? It’s not as if States want to engage in torture, but it has a duty to protect citizens. Wouldn’t the State be justified in those circumstances to engage in torture?  Lukes: in practice, unlikely the prisoner might have that information. Lukes consider the ticking bomb argument  taken not too seriously 4. A Weberian argument  State is an association that has a monopoly over the legitimized use of violence. The use of violence is central to our definition of the State  Weber has a tragic view of politics o He believes that those who become involved in politics (with lovely visions of what lies ahead in their country), sometimes in practice, had to accept that in order to achieve, to nudge society, you have to adopt unsavoury means. For good purposes  the reality  Lukes summarizing Weber: o According to Weber, anyone who chooses to engage in politics let himself in for the diabolic forces lurking of all of violence. This is inevitable because of states monopoly of the use of violence. The world is governed by demons. Enters into a deal with the devil. It is not true that good can only come from good and evil can only come from evil. Anyone who fails to see this is a political infant (the grow up part). Sometimes doing things that we think are good may have evil consequences. No epics in the world can escape the fact that numerous instances the achievement of good ends is bound to the fact that one must be willing to pay the past for using morally dubious means (or dangerous ones). Who must also face the possibility and probability of evil consequences it cannot be possible to justify ethically the ethically dangerous means and ramifications. o The implication: if one is a serious politician, one has to be prepared to use dirty means to achieve the ends o If a grown up politician needs to be prepared to use dirty means of achieving good ends that means torture can be justified in certain circumstances. 5. A Durkheimian counter-argument  Lukes: counter argument in Durkheimian view  Historical context: In 1892-94, Jewish captive named Dreyfus (army captain) found guilty of passing secrets to the enemy. In 1896, new evidence points to a different guy, a major general in army. In 1898, new trial is head and this major general is off the hook (acquitted). Question: who did it? Were these court marshals against Jews of that day against fair trial. One side: who really thought that the trial was properly conducted and there was a fuss made for no reason at all. But it was an open and shut case. People who had a traditional view of French society, there tended to be military people, people on the rite, people who believed in the authority of the church. The other side: he’s being scape-goateed, he’s’ being mistreated, being found guilty by his crime of being Jewish. Socialists of the day, people who believed that the French teacher had too much power in society (secularists), anti- traditionalists, and people who did not believe that the military should not be trusted. The argument put forth by those against Dreyfus: even if he was actually innocent, he did a disservice to French society by opening the affair again. What really mattered was maintaining the authority of France. By not turning this into a republic debate, which pitted one side of French society against another. The anti-Dreyfus were traditional and conservative by wanting to maintain that unity  Novelist: ‘Zola’ 1898 wrote a political pamphlet where he accused authorities of a cover up. Had to flee to England to stay out of jail (the French were going to put him in because he blamed the judges of Dreyfus trial)  someone else had forged the evidence and framed Dreyfus. o The conservatives  national interest trumped individual interests o Really important: unity o France went through French Revolution, through many regimes, revolutions, Napoleon. France which was unstable internally, at the same time that Europe is losing its predominance in global affairs in favour of America and the Soviet Union  Durkheim’s counter argument: o In fact, the anti Dreyfus had it all wrong when talking about importance of French unity. Those days are done, the new civil religion is one of individualism (increasingly in modern societies, institutions such as the church had no moral authority as they had before.) So it’s out-dated. This religion is not in church but in society, people believe in it, etc. o In fact, the problem is this: that in disrespecting the rights of Dreyfus, one is showing a lack of respect for individualism, that in fact is harmful to French society. He thinks it’s necessary to maintain French Society. Wrong way about going on to maintain unity. One has to pay homage to the new authority  individual rights, individual feeling, etc.  Lukes: individualism is the new authority. ‘Violating civil rights of individuals cannot rest unpunished without putting national ______ in jeopardy. It is impossible that the infringement on individual rights can freely occur. The common sentiments will suffer (and these sentiments are what all of France’s have in common). To make things work, have to respect individual rights. Thus the individualist who defends the rights of the individual defends the interest of society.’  Lib
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