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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 28, Issue 2, Fall 2014

Mavis Biss
Pages 277-288

Empathy and Interrogation

Against the background of not-so-distant debate regarding “enhanced” interrogation techniques used by the United States during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which many understand to be torture, this essay explores the moral complexities of “ordinary” interrogation practices, those that are clearly not forms of torture. Based on analysis of the written reflections of two United States interrogators on the work they did during the Iraq war, I categorize the roles played by multiple modes of empathy within interrogation and argue that empathetic responsiveness within the context of military interrogation poses a significant threat to the moral integrity of interrogators.

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