The Argument for Torture

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

Amnesty International - who should know better - professed to have been shocked byrepparttar results of their own surveys:

"In preparing for its third international campaign to stop torture, Amnesty International conducted a survey of its research files on 195 countries and territories. The survey coveredrepparttar 119245 period fromrepparttar 119246 beginning of 1997 to mid-2000. Information on torture is usually concealed, and reports of torture are often hard to document, sorepparttar 119247 figures almost certainly underestimate its extent. The statistics are shocking. There were reports of torture or ill-treatment by state officials in more than 150 countries. In more than 70, they were widespread or persistent. In more than 80 countries, people reportedly died as a result."

Countries and regimes abstain from torture - or, more often, claim to do so - because such overt abstention is expedient. It is a form of global political correctness, a policy choice intended to demonstrate common values and to extract concessions or benefits from others. Giving up this efficient weapon inrepparttar 119248 law enforcement arsenal even in Damoclean circumstances is often rewarded with foreign direct investment, military aid, and other forms of support.

But such ethical magnanimity is a luxury in times of war, or when faced with a threat to innocent life. Evenrepparttar 119249 courts ofrepparttar 119250 most liberal societies sanctioned atrocities in extraordinary circumstances. Hererepparttar 119251 law conforms both with common sense and with formal, utilitarian, ethics.

II. Ethical Considerations

Rights - whether moral or legal - impose obligations or duties on third parties towardsrepparttar 119252 right-holder. One has a right AGAINST other people and thus can prescribe to them certain obligatory behaviors and proscribe certain acts or omissions. Rights and duties are two sides ofrepparttar 119253 same Janus-like ethical coin.

This duality confuses people. They often erroneously identify rights with their attendant duties or obligations, withrepparttar 119254 morally decent, or even withrepparttar 119255 morally permissible. One's rights inform other people how they MUST behave towards one - not how they SHOULD, or OUGHT to act morally. Moral behavior is not dependent onrepparttar 119256 existence of a right. Obligations are.

To complicate matters further, many apparently simple and straightforward rights are amalgams of more basic moral or legal principles. To treat such rights as unities is to mistreat them.

Takerepparttar 119257 right not to be tortured. It is a compendium of many distinct rights, among them:repparttar 119258 right to bodily and mental integrity,repparttar 119259 right to avoid self-incrimination,repparttar 119260 right not to be pained, or killed,repparttar 119261 right to save one's life (wrongly reduced merely torepparttar 119262 right to self-defense),repparttar 119263 right to prolong one's life (e.g., by receiving medical attention), andrepparttar 119264 right not to be forced to lie under duress.

None of these rights is self-evident, or unambiguous, or universal, or immutable, or automatically applicable. It is safe to say, therefore, that these rights are not primary - but derivative, nonessential, or mere "wants".

Moreover,repparttar 119265 fact thatrepparttar 119266 torturer also has rights whose violation may justify torture is often overlooked.

Consider these two, for instance:

The Rights of Third Parties againstrepparttar 119267 Tortured

What is just and what is unjust is determined by an ethical calculus, or a social contract - both in constant flux. Still, it is commonly agreed that every person hasrepparttar 119268 right not to be tortured, or killed unjustly.

Yet, even if we find an Archimedean immutable point of moral reference - does A's right not to be tortured, let alone killed, mean that third parties are to refrain from enforcingrepparttar 119269 rights of other people against A?

What ifrepparttar 119270 only way to right wrongs committed, or about to be committed by A against others - was to torture, or kill A? There is a moral obligation to right wrongs by restoring, or safeguardingrepparttar 119271 rights of those wronged, or about to be wronged by A.

Ifrepparttar 119272 defiant silence - or evenrepparttar 119273 mere existence - of A are predicated onrepparttar 119274 repeated and continuous violation ofrepparttar 119275 rights of others (especially their right to live), and if these people object to such violation - then A must be tortured, or killed if that isrepparttar 119276 only way to rightrepparttar 119277 wrong and re-assertrepparttar 119278 rights of A's victims.

This, ironically, isrepparttar 119279 argument used by liberals to justify abortion whenrepparttar 119280 fetus (inrepparttar 119281 role of A) threatens his mother's rights to health and life.

The Right to Save One's Own Life

One has a right to save one's life by exercising self-defense or otherwise, by taking certain actions, or by avoiding them. Judaism - as well as other religious, moral, and legal systems - accepts that one hasrepparttar 119282 right to kill a pursuer who knowingly and intentionally is bent on taking one's life. Hunting down Osama bin-Laden inrepparttar 119283 wilds of Afghanistan is, therefore, morally acceptable (though not morally mandatory). So is torturing his minions.

When there is a clash between equally potent rights - for instance,repparttar 119284 conflicting rights to life of two people - we can decide among them randomly (by flipping a coin, or casting dice). Alternatively, we can add and subtract rights in a somewhat macabre arithmetic. The right to life definitely prevails overrepparttar 119285 right to comfort, bodily integrity, absence of pain and so on. Where life is at stake, non-lethal torture is justified by any ethical calculus.

Utilitarianism - a form of crass moral calculus - calls forrepparttar 119286 maximization of utility (life, happiness, pleasure). The lives, happiness, or pleasure ofrepparttar 119287 many outweighrepparttar 119288 life, happiness, or pleasure ofrepparttar 119289 few. If by killing or torturingrepparttar 119290 few we (a) saverepparttar 119291 lives ofrepparttar 119292 many (b)repparttar 119293 combined life expectancy ofrepparttar 119294 many is longer thanrepparttar 119295 combined life expectancy ofrepparttar 119296 few and (c) there is no other way to saverepparttar 119297 lives ofrepparttar 119298 many - it is morally permissible to kill, or torturerepparttar 119299 few.

III. The Social Treaty

There is no way to enforce certain rights without infringing on others. The calculus of ethics relies on implicit and explicit quantitative and qualitative hierarchies. The rights ofrepparttar 119300 many outweigh certain rights ofrepparttar 119301 few. Higher-level rights - such asrepparttar 119302 right to life - override rights of a lower order.

The rights of individuals are not absolute but "prima facie". They are restricted both byrepparttar 119303 rights of others and byrepparttar 119304 common interest. They are inextricably connected to duties towards other individuals in particular andrepparttar 119305 community in general. In other words, though not dependent on idiosyncratic cultural and social contexts, they are an integral part of a social covenant.

It can be argued that a suspect has excluded himself fromrepparttar 119306 social treaty by refusing to upholdrepparttar 119307 rights of others - for instance, by declining to collaborate with law enforcement agencies in forestalling an imminent disaster. Such inaction amounts torepparttar 119308 abrogation of many of one's rights (for instance,repparttar 119309 right to be free). Why not apply this abrogation to his or her right not to be tortured?

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Foods and Diets Litigations

Written by Laura Ciocan

Continued from page 1

The producers ofrepparttar popular Oreo cookies, Kraft Foods Inc were sued in 2003 byrepparttar 119244 attorney Stephen Joseph, who based his accusations on a provision ofrepparttar 119245 civil code of California saying that manufacturers are liable for products ifrepparttar 119246 consumer is not advised ofrepparttar 119247 products' unsafety. He rightfully claimed thatrepparttar 119248 public was not aware ofrepparttar 119249 high content of trans-fats in Oreos. He declared that he sued out of concern forrepparttar 119250 public health and that no money was requested inrepparttar 119251 lawsuit, which he finally withdrew, explaining thatrepparttar 119252 publicity on this case had made people aware ofrepparttar 119253 health risks enhanced byrepparttar 119254 product. Anyway, ifrepparttar 119255 lawsuit was intented as bad publicity forrepparttar 119256 Oreos,repparttar 119257 aim was not reached, as Kraft Foods Inc will continue to produce Oreos in a trans-fat free version.

Another famous case of litigation isrepparttar 119258 suit from 2002 against McDonald's. The lawsuit was filed byrepparttar 119259 lawyer Samuel Hirsch on behalf of some obese children. The lawer sustained thatrepparttar 119260 fast food producer misleadrepparttar 119261 consumers into believing thatrepparttar 119262 products were healthy and safe and claimed thatrepparttar 119263 children developed health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity because of eating McDonald's products. The suit was dismissed onrepparttar 119264 grounds that no one is forced to eat at McDonald's and thatrepparttar 119265 law has notrepparttar 119266 role to moderate individuals' excesses.

A recent date "diet trial" is going on in Florida. The suit was filed by 53-year-old Jody Gorran against Atkins Nutritionals on May 26, 2004. The plaintiff claims that after going on Atkins diet his cholesterol level increased so much that he needed angioplasty in order to unblock an artery. In addition to financial damages, there is alsorepparttar 119267 request thatrepparttar 119268 company warnsrepparttar 119269 public ofrepparttar 119270 potential dangers of a diet favoring meats, cheeses and other high-fat proteins by labeling their products. The sequel is yet to come.

Even if some of these lawsuits started out of reasons beyond humanitarian, (as for instancerepparttar 119271 chase for money from damages that such important companies would pay) they have a positive result, namely,repparttar 119272 publicity around such cases arises questionning, gives peoplerepparttar 119273 idea of doubt,repparttar 119274 "assumption of guilt".

Laura Ciocan writes for where you can find more information about diets Please feel free to use this article in your Newsletter or on your website. If you use this article, please include the resource box and send a brief message to let me know where it appeared:

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