Torture and Narrative: An Absolute Violation of the Self

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My central point in the following is to defend the moral relevance of narratives in the philosophical debates concerning the justifiability of torture. In some areas of enquiry - symbolic logic, for example - it is legitimate to have an extremely narrow disciplinary focus, using only the tools of that discipline, to answer questions of disciplinary import. However, in other fields this can and should vary depending on the context and the questions being asked. In the debates about the justifiability of torture, liberalism about sources is required along with a complementary multi-disciplinary focus. Unfortunately, this is commonly only the case. Philosophers often seem content to presuppose a clear understanding of torture and then employ one or more of either utilitarianism, virtue ethics or deontology to make a case for or against. In law, theorists regularly combine moral theory, legal princeiple and the definition of torture from the United Nations Convention against Torture to do the same. In both cases, morally essential empirical material from a wide range of disciplines and writings is regularly ignored. In particular, the careful analysis of narratives - whether of survivors, torturers, or involved other parties - is conspicuously absent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConfessions
Subtitle of host publicationConfounding Narrative and Ethics
EditorsEleanor Milligan, Emma Woodley
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)1-4438-1920-4, 978-1-4438-1920-6
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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