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SOC203H1 Lecture Notes - Moral Authority, French Revolution, Jab

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Torture: Weber vs. Durkheim 18/03/2013 22:06:00
1.Torture: some recent examples
2.Torture as concept
3.can torture be justified?
4.a Weberian argument
5.a Durkheimian counter-argument
6.what is the Durkheimian counter-argument missing?
the tests will be true/false and mc and only on authority not cumulative and you are responsible
for lecture and readings. The night we write the test we will get the position papers.
- Stephen Lukes in 2005 was the time in Iraq and reports show that the US was engaged in
torture and his writings was about weather torture can be ever justified. it deals with the
question of moral authority and plots weber against Durkheim like a position paper pitting
two thinkers together so it gives you example of these thinkers and thoughts that you can
address as issues in affairs. Luke’s at the beginning in his article takes a jab at philosophers
that argue even whether to consider torture is admissible is wrong because even if raising the
question leads to morality. Luke thinks we should have good faith when it comes to politics.
1. Philippines in the mid 90s- phillepene authorities tortured reporters and they say that to
torture is to avoid these events such as cashing of airplane and killing the pope. They
tortured by beating the suspect with wood and crushed lighted cigarettes into his private
parts and after employing this procedure they gave him to the American authorities after
receiving information that could be life saving
2. the concept is the inflicting excruciating pain. In this case it is different than criminal
torture and Luke’s is not interested in that rather the practice of torture by the state and
used examples in Algeria in 1962 when the north colony who wanted to throw the French
out of the country and the French used torture in that case. The Israeli states sometimes
find opponents to their regime and than use torture. This can be done by individual or
state. The torture can be either psychological or physical so this means to humiliate
someone it is a psychological torture

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3. the central question that Luke’s is asking is that can liberal democrats justify using
torture? There is some who believes that it is wrong on all accounts. There are also
people in civil society like groups called amnesty international who are against it and it is
a international NGO where they are interested in human rights issues. Let’s say the
military authority has a suspect in custody and they believe that a attack is going to take
place and they believe that the suspect has information that could allow them to save
countless innocent lives. Some who look at the pros and cons some would say it could be
justified since it is allowing the lives of many to be saved so would it be morally okay to
engage to do this when it comes to the state to protect people? Luke’s says that this is not
a good way to fix the problem. He says that in practice prisoners who are held by state
would ever have such information and it would be difficult for those being tortured to
know what lives are being saved. He says that it should not be taken too seriously and
how would the authorities know that this person would have this kind of information?
4. when we read Weber we saw that he is not a sentimental thinker since if you look at his
definition of the state. He says the sate is holding monopoly by the use of violence and
it’s a central definition of the state. when you read politics as a vocation you will see
weber viewing politics as a tragic view since he believes that those who get involved in
politics sometimes have to accept that in order to achieve the society in a green light
future they have to use dirty means and that is a reality of political life.
- Lukes: according to weber anyone who chooses to engage in politics lets themselves in
for the diabolitics use of violence where weber says the world is governed by demons- weber
is saying do not fool yourself that if you engage in good actions good happens and that is
false. He says that we have to recognize that doing things that may be good can have evil
consequences. Weber than continues that when we enter politics we enter a grey zone where
if we are good we will achieve positive goods. The idea is that if one is serious for politics
than one has to be okay with using dirty means in order to achieve good ends than it could
imply that torture is okay for certain circumstances.

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5. Lukes: lukes draws on a episode on a French history where Durkheim was involved
where he took a stance. The historical context was in 1892-1894 a Jewish captain was
found guilty of treason (passing secrets to the enemy). in 1896 new evidence emerges and
in 1898 a new trial is made and this general is off the hook. A couple of issues: Who did
it? the question of anti-Semitism. This is a question that divided the French society where
it had two sides where on one side people though it was a good trial and they were after a
whole fuss and sociologically the anti people were the traditionalists who were on the
right. The people who were part of Dreyfus thought he was not triad fair because he was
a Jewish or many thought the church had too much power in their hands, people who did
not believe the military was a valuable institution that should be trusted. Those against
Dreyfus thought that it made a huge disadvantage to French society by re-opening this
since it brings chaos no matter if he was innocent or not. Those who were anti were
conservatives as they anted to uphold unity and traditional French society. Zola was
another novelist thought that Dreyfus was held unfairly and because of it he had to flee
from authority because of his beliefs. A new trial was held later and Dreyfus was
innocent where he had been framed.
- the conservatives- the believed in strong unity especially after going through so many
regime changes after the French revolution. This is France that is unstable internally and
Europe was losing dominance and these are certain things that nationalist had in mind.
- Durkheim – the anti – Dreyfus had it all wrong when they talked about the importance of
unity. He said that those days are gone and increasingly in modern society the military, the
church, ariscrosity – these institutions don’t have the same moral authority and they cannot
bring people into agreement like before. He than says that these traditional institutions may
not have the power to hold people is the new religion which is not church based but it is a
society based, and the argument where he comes with is: he says the problem is that in
disrespecting the rights of Dreyfus is actually disrespecting individualism and they are going
at it the wrong way to maintain unity. One has to pay homage to the new cult which is
individual like individual freedom and rights to anyone no mater their ethnicity.
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