International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 13, Issue 1, Spring 1999

Stephen Kershnar
Pages 47-56

Objections to the Systematic Imposition of Punitive Torture

A particular amount of punishment is justified if and only if that amount of punishment is deserved and the desert claim is not overridden. In the case of some multiple murderers or people who perform serious violent acts in addition to murder, the deserved punishment must involve torture. I argue that this legitimate desert claim is not overridden by objections based on notions of brutality and inhumanity, the Kantian concern that persons be treated as ends, the intuitive distaste that many persons have for torture, the negative consequences of institutionalized torture, the concern for bias in the imposition of punishment, and the need for accuracy in measuring harms.