Tortured by Circumstance

Reading Esclave et Bourreau (Slave and Executioner), the story of a tortured slave-turned-torturer-and-executioner, provokes questions in Dalrymple’s mind:

Here is a question: if you believe that torture is sometimes justified, would you be prepared to perform it yourself? And if not, would your objection be more than merely aesthetic or practical – that it was a horribly messy business and that you did not know how to carry it out properly or efficiently, and that it was therefore best left to the technicians of torture? Can you delegate to someone else the performance of a task on your behalf that you would not be prepared on ethical grounds to perform yourself? In modern society, our lives are in effect one long succession of delegations, explicit or implicit; we delegate to the airline pilot or the neurosurgeon not because we object to what they do, but because we cannot do what they do. This is different from delegating a morally objectionable task.

NOTE: Happy Independence Day to our fellow former rebel colonists!

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