top of page
  • Writer's pictureStudentGuiders

Complete this section of the Organizer as you are exploring the resources to take notes on each phil

Part I: Resource Companion

Instructions: Complete this section of the Organizer as you are exploring the resources to take notes on each philosopher’s ideas and how they might apply to the issue of torture. Using your own words, respond to the following questions.

1. Michael Sandel identifies two types of moral reasoning. What are they? Briefly describe each.

Consequentialist, locates morality in the consequences of an act. This is the result on what you do.

Categorical, locates morality in certain duties and rights regardless of consequences.

2. What is the “principle of utility” according to Mill?

The Principle of Utility is the belief that when a person has options in a moral situation he should choose the one that results in the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. People should make decisions to try and make the greatest number of people happy. I also think in everyday life you should try and make others happy as well as yourself through the decisions you make. I think for Mill the happiness for the greatest number of people would make him happy.

3. Explain what Mill means by “utilitarianism.” What kind of moral reasoning does it use?

Mills meaning for utilitarianism is to produce greater good for everyone and that sometimes people do bad things to be able to get the better good from them. That you should not go out and try to be a utilitarianism, that people should follow the common-sense rule, do for the greater good. On the torture rule he also states that if you can help more people by torturing a child that one should do so. There was also a statement of being partial to oneself well- being. It was also discussed about justifying better treatment to animals. Animal rights.

It will be consequential because it has to do with morals in the consequences of an act that you do.

4. What do “categorical” and “imperative” mean?

Categorical Is to be true at all times.

Imperative is something one must do.

5. Explain what Kant means by the “categorical imperative.” What kind of moral reasoning does this use?

Categorical imperative is a rule that is true in circumstances.

. and, in general, every rational being exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will. In all his actions, whether they are directed to himself or to other rational beings, he must always be regarded at the same time as an end...

Immanuel Kant, The Categorical Imperative

Kant’s formulation of the categorical imperative is understating how to determine whether an action is right or wrong. It states, “Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” Kant meant that a person should act only by the reasons that will apply to other similar situations. He also argued that a universal law should always take situations into account. For example, a person should pay back their debt unless not paying the debts will be more respectful. Morality is based on the categorical imperative because morality is such that a person is commanded by it, and it is in a way that a person cannot opt out of it or it does not apply to him or her. The kind of moral reasoning that is used by Kant is that his approach to morality focus more on the individual and the choices he or she make rather than the actual consequences of the actions or the choices he or she makes. Also, Kant thinks that all humans are rational and that they are capable at arriving at the same conclusions thus he felt the need of applying maxim of categorical imperative as laws. Kant believes that the categorical imperative underlies in all recognized moral laws thus moral rules can be justified concerning the basic moral principles.

l beings, he must always be regarded at the same time as an end...

6. Use the table below to apply each philosophy to the use of torture.



What would each philosopher conclude about the ethics of using torture?

Yes he approves of torture. He feels that if it will save more lives by torturing one human it would be okay (Heydt, 2006).

Kant does not approve the ethics of using torture. The reason behind it is because torture cannot be universalized without self-contradiction (Kant, 1996).

Why would he say that? (In other words, what’s your evidence?)

Mill believes in Utilitarianism thus he approves torture based on the theory of consequentialism, whereby it is the results of an action that are considered rather than the actions or the choices made. For example, if a criminal has information that will benefit thousands of people, Mill believe torture is justifiable in such a situation as it will bring more happiness and benefits as compared to the harm it will cause.

Kant believes that people should not be treated as instruments, for others to achieve their goals. If torture becomes a universal rule for obtaining information that is necessary and very useful in saving lives, then every person could potentially be tortured. Thus, this maxim is self-contradictory, and Kant would never opt for allowing torture despite the situations. He believes in the choice or actions taken but not the results of those actions. Kant argues that if you want to get information from a person, you should connect your desire for information and their goals but not to torture them.

7. Which philosopher do you agree with? Why?

After reading these I think I would agree with Mill because if torture would save many other lives than just losing the one life I think it would be justified.

Part II: Article Analysis

Instructions: Read the following three articles:

● “In Defense of Torture” by Sam Harris

● “‘Because It Is Wrong:’ A Meditation on Torture,” with Charles and Gregory Fried

● “Rules Should Govern Torture, Dershowitz Says,” with Alan Dershowitz

8. Use the table below to analyze each article.

In Defense of Torture

“Because It Is Wrong:” A Meditation on Torture

Rules Should Govern Torture, Dershowitz Says

What ethical arguments are being made?

Categorical because it is necessary in our war on terror. So, I think Mill would support this position (Harris,2005).

Consequentialist is that torture is illegal because it is wrong. I think Kant would support this (Siegel,2010).

Categorical is the ethical argument made is that we need to acknowledge what is being done and create rules, and have visibility and accountability. It is never acceptable. Mill would support this(Dershowitz,2006).

What evidence is being given?

Casual abuse of ordinary prisoners. Documented abuses, collateral damage, the maiming and killing of innocent noncombatants is unavoidable. Collateral damage even if we had smarter bombs, or fight defensive wars. The only way not to create collateral damage would be not to fight wars under any circumstances. He states” there is no escaping the fact that whenever we drop bombs, we drop them with the knowledge that some number of children will blinded, paralyzed, orphaned and killed by them (Harris,2005).”

Washington states treat those captured in battle with humanity and let them have no reason to complain of our copying of the brutal example of the British army. Lincoln stated military necessity does not admit of cruelty, nor of the torture to extort confessions(Siegel,2010).

The debate is what is considered torture? It is stated the waterboarding is being used, sleep deprivation, loud music, smelly sacks put over heads and in democracy we ask is this torture? This is all denied (Dershowitz,2006).

What kind of moral reasoning is being used? Which philosopher would likely support it?

Moral reasoning is that it is necessary to prevent so many deaths. People object because of emotional grounds. People think it is evil and we should not practice it (Harris,2005). I think Alan Dershowitz would support it if there was a torture warrant signed by the president. He is the only one that admits that it is being done and it is being denied(Dershowitz,2006). Mill is against torture because, he thinks one should always try to do the right thing and not cause harm to others

That decent civilized humans will not under any circumstances torture or order torture. The wrongness of torture is absolute and there is no reasonable instance for it. Doing torture is wrong and it dishonors the person doing it and the country. A supporter of aggressive techniques or torture if proven effective would be a moral narcissist to put these desires to keep your hands clean ahead of common good. (Siegel,2010). I think Alan Dershowitz would support it if there was a torture warrant signed by the president. He is the only one that admits that it is being done and it is being denied (Dershowitz,2006).

He does not agree with torture but he does think it will be used and has been used. If it means saving millions of people by torturing one person it will be done. It is done in hiding so everyone states it is not used. We need to acknowledge that it is being done and create rules for using it. After reading the philosophers stories I think Alan Dershowitz would support it if there was a torture warrant signed by the president. He is the only one that admits that it is being done and it is being denied (Dershowitz,2006).

Are there any flaws or holes in the argument? How could you argue against it?

It is ethically wrong and the flaw I see is that it if it means torturing one human life to save millions this should be done.

The flaw in this one is that the attempt to try and prosecute the president or vise-president there inadmissible actions through prosecution.

The flaw that is here is that torture is used and everyone will deny using it.

Part III: Rough Draft

Instructions: Write a rough draft of your article. Save a copy that you can submit later. Your article should include the following:

● Overview of the ideas of Mill and Kant as they relate to ethics

● Discussion of what Mill and Kant would say about torture

● Analysis of the three articles

● Comparison of the authors’ positions and the positions of Mill and Kant

Note that your article must represent your own work and be expressed in your own words. If you use someone else’s words, you need to quote them and cite your source using APA format.

Part IV: Writing Editing Form

Instructions: Write and polish a final draft. Use this Writing Editing Form to track the critique of your own work and explain major revisions you make from your rough draft to your final draft.

Before you make any revisions, read and review your rough draft. Focus on things like content and organization—don’t worry about spelling and mechanics just yet. Then, using the chart below, identify the three most important aspects of your writing that work well in your draft. Next, identify the three most important aspects of your writing that need more work. Be specific.

Works Well

Needs More Work

1. Mill would say that torture is acceptable if it increases the happiness of a greater amount of people than if the torture were not carried out.

1. Torture is being used and we deny it.

2. Kant would be opposed because it is the moral conviction of torture being wrong why one should not undertake in it.

2. The president is the only person that can approve this to be done.

3. The use of torture to extract information from terrorists is a big issue in our society.

3. In war fare, there is always collateral damage.

Once you have identified your changes, begin revising your rough draft. Once you have finished making your major changes, proofread to check for errors in spelling and mechanics. Finally, use the chart below to give three examples of sentences that you changed for your final draft.

Sentence Before Editing

Sentence After Editing

1. The use of torture to extract information from terrorists is a big issue in our society.

1. There is a debate as whether the use of torture to extract information from terrorists is a big issue in our society

2. Torture is being used and we deny it.

2. . It is supported to use torture in rare circumstances but who makes that call?

3. The should be no reasonable instance for it.

3. There should be no reasonable instance that we should use torture.


Retrieved from

BBC - Ethics - Introduction to ethics: Duty-based ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

'Because It Is Wrong': A Meditation On Torture : NPR. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Husted, G. L., Husted, J. H., Scotto, C. J., & Wolf, K. M. (2015). Bioethical decision making in nursing. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

In Defense of Torture | The Huffington Post. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Landow, G. P., & National University of Singapore. (1995). The Victorian web. New York, N.Y.: University Scholars Program, National University of Singapore.

Michael Sandel: What's the right thing to do? | TED Talk | (n.d.). Retrieved from

Purdue OWL: Proofreading. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Revising Drafts - The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Rules Should Govern Torture, Dershowitz Says : NPR. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Recent Posts

See All

When infusing pantoprazole, use a separate IV line, a pump, and an in-line filter. A brown wrapper and frequent vital signs are not needed. A client has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The pro

Your paragraph text(10).png
bottom of page