Tuesday, May 7, 2013

what would good people do with the innocents they've kidnapped and are currently imprisoning and torturing?

A: I've got this ethical dilemma, a real head scratcher of a hypothetical. If a group of armed men kidnap a number of other men who have committed no crimes against them, or as far as anyone knows, against anyone, and take them to an island and torture them for years on end, what should the first group do?

P: That's not an ethical dilemma. The kidnappers should stop torturing them, obviously, and then take them wherever they want to go, as soon as possible.

A: Whoops. I forgot to explain that the kidnappees might want revenge.

P: Well, first of all, you said they're not criminals, but that's not even the issue. You're asking this as an ethical question, right? Not as a question about how a group of kidnappers/torturers should go about covering their asses?

A: Maybe? I mean you can't just expect a bunch of kidnapper/torturers to let people go who might want to come back and kill them.

P: That's not the question you asked. You asked what they should do.

A: They should risk their lives?

P: Again, you haven't established that their lives are at risk. And it sounds to me like the dangerous people are the ones who are currently imprisoning and torturing innocents. They've done this for years, right, and are still doing it? It sounds like you think the defining issue should be concern about what the victims do with their time, once free, like you think that more weight should be given to the unfounded concerns of actual, proven criminals than to their victims' concerns about being imprisoned and tortured by a bunch of proven criminals.

A: Silly me, I should have mentioned that the kidnappees are Schmuzlims. Some of them do terrible things to ordinary people.

P: Like kidnap them from their homes, take them to an island and torture them?

A: Not that I know of, but they kill civilians to advance political ends.

P: Well, I'm glad you're against that. And I don't know much about Schmuzlims, but your claims are sketchy, to say the least. I mean, is there a good reason to think Schmuzlims are uniquely violent? But I'm letting you get me off track again. It seems to me that members of a group that has members some of whom are violent are statistically less likely to be violent than members of a group that consists of 100% established violent criminals, like the kidnappers, imprisoners and torturers in question. No, that's still off track. The torturers are the fucking criminals, obviously, and anyone who speaks on their behalf or worrries about their fate should stop pretending they're concerned about questions of principle or the avoidance of unnecessary human suffering.

No comments: