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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 23, Issue 2, Fall 2009

Eric M. Rovie
Pages 315-333

Tortured Knowledge
Epistemological Problems with Ticking-Bomb Cases

The use of torture for interrogational purposes is frequently justified by a ‘ticking-bomb’ case, claiming that serious harms will come to a large group of people if a suspect is not tortured for the location of the bomb. In this paper, I will argue that an important recent defense of interrogational torture (Seumas Miller’s) faces several practical and epistemological problems. In this paper, I argue that these epistemological problems lead to the failure of Miller’s argument. I also argue that a minimalist conception of epistemological duties gives us further reason to reject both Miller’s argument and torture more generally. I conclude that arguments for torture that are based on ticking-bomb cases are bound to face an irresolvable epistemological problem, closing one of the more prominent avenues used to justify torture.

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