Confronting Torture: Essays on the Ethics, Legality, History, and Psychology of Torture Today

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

Torture has lately become front page news, featured in popular movies and TV shows, and a topic of intense public debate. It grips our imagination, in part because torturing someone seems to be an unthinkable breach of humanity—theirs and ours. And yet, when confronted with horrendous events in war, or the prospect of catastrophic damage to one’s own country, many come to wonder whether we can really afford to abstain entirely from torture. Before trying to tackle this dilemma, though, we need to see torture as a multifaceted problem with a long history and numerous ethical and legal aspects.

Confronting Torture offers a multidisciplinary investigation of this wrenching topic. Editors Scott A. Anderson and Martha C. Nussbaum bring together a diversity of scholars to grapple with many of torture’s complexities, including: How should we understand the impetus to use torture? Why does torture stand out as a particularly heinous means of war-fighting? Are there any sound justifications for the use of torture? How does torture affect the societies that employ it? And how can we develop ethical or political bulwarks to prevent its use? The essays here resist the temptation to oversimplify torture, drawing together work from scholars in psychology, history, sociology, law, and philosophy, deepening and broadening our grasp of the subject. Now, more than ever, torture is something we must think about; this important book offers a diversity of timely, constructive responses on this resurgent and controversial subject.
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About the author

Scott A. Anderson is associate professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia. Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. She is the author of many books, including most recently Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 23, 2018
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780226529554
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Civil Rights
Law / General
Law / Legal History
Law / Military
Philosophy / Social
Political Science / International Relations / General
Psychology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Anger is not just ubiquitous, it is also popular. Many people think it is impossible to care sufficiently for justice without anger at injustice. Many believe that it is impossible for individuals to vindicate their own self-respect or to move beyond an injury without anger. To not feel anger in those cases would be considered suspect. Is this how we should think about anger, or is anger above all a disease, deforming both the personal and the political? In this wide-ranging book, Martha C. Nussbaum, one of our leading public intellectuals, argues that anger is conceptually confused and normatively pernicious. It assumes that the suffering of the wrongdoer restores the thing that was damaged, and it betrays an all-too-lively interest in relative status and humiliation. Studying anger in intimate relationships, casual daily interactions, the workplace, the criminal justice system, and movements for social transformation, Nussbaum shows that anger's core ideas are both infantile and harmful. Is forgiveness the best way of transcending anger? Nussbaum examines different conceptions of this much-sentimentalized notion, both in the Jewish and Christian traditions and in secular morality. Some forms of forgiveness are ethically promising, she claims, but others are subtle allies of retribution: those that exact a performance of contrition and abasement as a condition of waiving angry feelings. In general, she argues, a spirit of generosity (combined, in some cases, with a reliance on impartial welfare-oriented legal institutions) is the best way to respond to injury. Applied to the personal and the political realms, Nussbaum's profoundly insightful and erudite view of anger and forgiveness puts both in a startling new light.
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