International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 22, Issue 2, Fall 2008

Michael Davis
Pages 243-263

Torturing Professions

What are the conceptual connections between torture and profession? Exploring this question requires exploring at least two others. Before we can work out the conceptual connections between profession and torture, we must have a suitable conception of both profession and torture. We seem to have several conceptions of each. So, I first identify several alternative conceptions of profession, explaining why one should be preferred over the others. Next, I do the same for torture; and then, I argue that, given the preferred conception of torture and the preferred conception of profession, there can be no profession of torturers. In the final section, I argue that deliberately torturing or aiding in torture is always unprofessional. The fact that some conceptions of profession do not yield this conclusion tells us more about the inadequacy of those conceptions than about professions.