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Anonymous said…
Stephen

I was recently listening to a podcast of a lecture by Slavoj Zizek. He said that Sam Harris presents an argument justifying torture in one of his books.

I'll defend anyone's right to argue for things I don't agree with. But if Harris is really in favour of torturing people, I'm amazed other liberal atheists haven't pulled him up on this.

Do you know anything about this?
Stephen Law said…
Untrue, I believe. Alister McGrath made same accusation against Harris in a talk I had with him and I said I would be surprised if it was true. Atheist Missionary pointed out here it isn't true (and sent me Sam's book to confirm).
Timothy Rowe said…
As I recall, his argument goes like this: Say the world was going to end, and that could only stopped by torturing someone. Would it be permissible from a moral point of view to torture someone, if doing so would cancel the world's impending doom?

Then you can apply that to a case where someone knows where the terrorist bombs are planted, and torture is the only way of getting that information.

His argument turns on torture not being valued as an absolute wrong, and hence being capable of being surpassed in its importance by other considerations (like the preservation of the world).

/at least, that's what I recall his argument as having been...

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