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Author: Lon Olson

Abstract

The approach to ‘redefining’ torture utilized by the George W. Bush Justice Department after 9/11 was founded on a particularly erroneous legal interpretation which led to human rights abuses that should have been prevented. In addition to the horrific suffering inflicted upon both the guilty and the innocent, this redefinition of torture led many Americans, civilian and military, to commit acts that both compromised their own moral integrity and besmirched the moral reputation of the nation they were sworn to serve. In contrast, I argue for a definition that is grounded in principles that emphasize respect for the dignity of human life as well as rationality, of both the torture victim and the torturer. In light of this, the definition of torture for which I argue relies heavily on natural law principles that articulate the dignity of all human beings. The end result is a definition of torture that has the capacity to serve as a foundation upon which to build more fine-grained laws designed to curtail this destructive practice.

In: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Torture
Editors: Lon Olson and Stuart Molloy
This volume offers diverse insights on how the practice of torture has impacted society and how we view human nature. After the Second World War, it was hoped that torture had been permanently vanquished among modern liberal states, and was only practiced by brutal totalitarian regimes. However, events after 9/11 revealed that the re-emergence of torture is an ever-present threat, even among leading democracies. Drawing from their knowledge of the humanities and social sciences, the contributors offer their expertise on the deleterious effects of torture and reveal that its trauma is interwoven into the fabric of modern society, requiring constant diligence to be rooted out and kept at bay. Contributors are William Fitzhugh Brundage, Federico Ciavattone, Noora Virjamo, Toni Koivulahti, Diana Medlicott, Stuart Molloy, Lon Olson, Martin Previsic, David Senesh and Hedi Viterbo.
In: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Torture
In: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Torture
In: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Torture
In: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Torture