Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Torture for our greater good? -Kyle Meyer

As the economist says;

IN EVERY war, information is a weapon. In a “war against terrorism”, where the adversary wears no uniform and hides among the civilian population, information can matter even more. But does that mean that torture can sometimes be justified to extract information?

This age old argument is about weather or not torture is really good or bad, moral or immoral, and is it really working.

There are two obvious sides to this argument, being with or against the use or torture;

  1. Torture gets information
  2. Information saves lives

Therefore, Torture saves lives

Now, with that argument torture seems great, its a valid argument and it seems like it would help, we can find and stop terrorism, get the information we need, and put an end to any threats.

27,000 people in 25 countries last October, more than one out of three people in nine of those countries, including America, considered a degree of torture acceptable if it saved lives.

It seems as if torture seems pretty good. People seem to find that if it saves lives, it is indeed worth it, worth the ethical torture to the person torturing, worth the risk of the information being false or a trap. Torture can been seen in two ways though;

  1. Torture is morally wrong
  2. Information can be false

Therefore, Torture is useless

They’ll say anything;

If anyone was put under torture, you would say anything just to make the pain stop, true or false, who would be the wiser? Yes torture has its gains being that if someone is hiding within the civilian crowd, we can find that said person before they can cause any damage.

The answer in international law is categorical: no. As laid down in treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, the UN Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ban on torture or any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is absolute, even in times of war. Along with genocide, torture is the only crime that every state must punish, no matter who commits it or where

Truth, Validity, and Soundness?

There is truth to both sides of this argument, being both moral and immoral, that is why this is an argument. Both sides have valid points with or against the use of torture, therefore both the sides to this argument is sound. So I guess what it really comes down to, is personal opinion, because both sides have their facts.Those facts are both proven, that being that torture can be justified because in some cases, torture led to us finding and stopped terrorism. However there are cases that proved to be useless and we just ended up torturing someone for nothing.

Again as the economist says in another article;

On this point he is backed up by John Kiriakou, a former CIA operative who has struggled with the issue. Mr Kiriakou has said that the information gained during Mr Zubaydah’s “enhanced” interrogation “disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks“. The author Mark Bowden also stumbled upon a benefit of torture when writing about the American team that cracked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s inner circle.

With that said, there are still times where it did not work, like in the Guardian;

The report finds that CIA detainees subjected to what were then called “enhanced interrogation techniques” either produced no intelligence, or they “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence”

So there you have it folks, sometimes it works, and sometimes it produces nothing.





Burj Khalifa – Inspiring Morality (maybe)

Over-Analyzing Art

Converging on an aesthetics unit, I expected only absurdity from my philosophy class. Of course, beauty is something wonderful to talk about, and works of art are something fascinating to spend your time analyzing. The problem is that I don’t appreciate art, to the extent that people would expect.

I made this opinion very clear in the opening days of discussion, given the topic of art. I don’t feel art possesses everything that the majority of society typically pertains to it. It’s just art, don’t you realize? But it seems to be a popular topic of discussion, and is commonly perceived as ‘deep and meaningful’, regardless of any purpose behind its creation.

Obviously, my viewpoint on this was opposed, despite my self-proclaimed clever retorts. Regardless of my opinion, I still wondered why art gathers such attention, and is analyzed so often for meaning. And I concluded with this: art’s meaning is sought for because of its intangibility. People seek the meaning because the meaning cannot always be easily found.

A common parallel to this is society’s changing opinion and reflection on the meaning of the passages of the Bible. The way that we assess the verses given in the Bible changes with the transformations that our paradigms experience, as well. And we often seek far beyond, what could potentially be, a simple message.

Anyway, back to art. What’s important is that we examine art rigorously due to its intangibility. Which leads into the next point that philosophers examining art have made: all art possesses moral qualities.

Morality in Art

“Wait, what?!”. When first reading this idea, I was blown away with the stupidity these philosophers exemplified. While there were a few who had concluded all art had to have moral qualities, I found other rational ones (mainly Plato and Kongfuzi) who stated that art should inspire morality, but not necessarily be created for the purpose of. I felt this to be somewhat reasonable.

This ties in to my original conclusion, that people seek meaning because meaning cannot be easily found. I believe that while art (usually) does not possess inherently moral or immoral qualities, and external source can often gather one from their viewpoint. The only problem is, is there a way to assess the morality ‘well’? Works of art can be interpreted in many fashions, and the moral principle resulting from that interpretation could be vastly different depending on the viewer.

My favourite photo of this building

Yours Truly, The World’s Tallest Building Ever

This is the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. It is currently the tallest standing building in the entire world. I’ll get into the details later, but pertaining to morals: what moral statements could you conclude from this photo?

I could say that this tower stands above the rest, and it is a metaphor for life: that one person should and could stand above the rest, towering over them, with great power and size. Or I could say that humans are capable of great things – look at the size of this building! We can do anything we set our minds to. Comparing the outskirts of the photo to the center, I could come to the conclusion that some people are meant to live poor, and others rich.

I could also reverse all those statements – that this photo is an example to show that we shouldn’t…(insert conclusion here). What I am getting as is that there are no normative aspects to assessing art in terms of morals. So why should we pretend like there are?

Often, critics will decide that a specific piece of art is portraying a specific moral concept. What we need to realize is that morality is not something definite. It is not certain. So we cannot treat it as such, when considering works of art.

The Photo – “The World’s Tallest Tower”

Some quick insight into the photo (not related to morals):

The image used above is, as said, a photo of the Burj Khalifa, and the surrounding city. Dave Alexander, a professional photographer, took it from a touring helicopter in 2008. Dave took it for the love of photography (art for art’s sake – first brought forth by Aristotle). Or you could say, the love of beauty, not just for art’s sake (George Sand). Either way, this photo can be viewed in a series of ways, consisting of metaphorical and literal, moral and aesthetic as well as descriptive and normative aspects. Seeing as this was taken for the purpose of normative appeal, here’s a quick analysis of its normative components.

The Photographer’s Critique

This photo possesses a lot of the material necessary for a stellar photograph. The colour contrast and density in specific sections of the city make the photo truly breathtaking… as well as interesting to look at. In addition to that, the tone of the weather, the use of horizons, and the depth of field are tuned to perfection. This photographer definitely took advantage of his opportunity. I am impressed – in a normative sense, this photo has every component necessary to be classified as ‘perfect’.