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Lecture

SOC203H1 Lecture Notes - World War I


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC203H1
Professor
jackveulgers

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March 18th - Lecture Notes
Torture
Weber vs Durkheim
1. Torture: some recent examples
US military actions in Iraq
2. Torture as a concept
Inflicting excruciating pain. We are talking about the practice of torture by States,
not criminal torture (sadistic individuals). Isreali state engages in torture. Torture
might either be psychological or physical.
3. Can torture be justified
Central question that Lukes is asking (interested in liberal democratic states) can
these states justify the use of torture? Amnesty international is opposed to all forms
of torture, no matter the case.
Ticking bomb argument - police has a suspect in custody, authorities have reason to
believe that an attack is going to take place in a pre-determined place. They also
believe that the suspect knows about the attack, and if the information can be
extracted from the statistic, the police can prevent the attack and save innocent
lives. Wouldn't it make sense/justified, morally, to save those lives if they have that
option?
Lukes says this is not a very good way of posing the problem - why? In practice, it is
not likely that the prisoner will ever have this information. How can authorities been
100% sure that the suspect actually has the information?
4. A Weberian argument
State definition - they have monopoly control over the means of violence. Those
who become involved in politics, sometimes in practice, have to accept that in order
to achieve, to nudge society to adopt his views, have to sometimes adopt
unsavoury means. Doing things that we think are good can have evil consequences
and vice-versa.
5. A Durkheimian counter-argument
in 1894, a Jewish captain named Dreyfus was found guilty for treason, passing
secrets to the enemy. New evidence emerges that is accusing a major general. A
new trial is conducted and the major general is acquitted immediately. But it was
impossible for a Jew in France in those days to have a fair trial - so who did it?
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