First, the hard facts: Torturing the little girl would work—meaning, thousands of lives or maybe more could be saved. Not torturing the girl would lead to the bomb’s detonation, decimating an entire city. Based on these facts, the statistics show that the act of torturing a little girl that could permanently and irreversibly damage her life forever is against the lives of a population the size of a large city. Looking at it mathematically, it is supposed to be a no-brainer.
Sacrifices have to be made in order to prevent a major catastrophe, even if the price is the torture of an innocent little girl. As saving grace, the scenario does not mention that the girl would be killed, so actually, it is her torture against lives, not her life against thousands, or more. Even if the scenario stated that the little girl would be killed in exchange for the information her father is holding (which the scenario assures would work in defusing the bomb), I would still pick the lives of thousands over the life of one girl.
While torture is an evil act, so too is terrorism—a dilemma that I’m sure counter-terrorism agents face on their duties. There is a saying that you can’t fire with fire—a wrong deed can’t be reversed by doing another wrong deed. Looking at morality technically, I’m not supposed to torture the little girl, but my conscience suggests that I should choose the lesser evil because I am left with no choice—I have to torture the girl in exchange for the lives of thousands. Reply to Student’s Post First, the scenario can’t be faulty. That’s why it’s a scenario.
It’s given to create an entirely new world, a world that may not be bound with the same laws as it were in the real world. Whatever the scenario says, it would just have to be taken. Second, burning the girl’s arm is nothing compared to the other things the agent could do. It’s just one way of torture and most likely, just a way to measure the terrorist’s temperament. (This does not contradict with my initial response because the scenario clearly stated the rules about the only possible outcomes of the torture, while the scenario does not say that “burning her arm” is the only means of torture).
Courtney from Study Moose