Torture, Necessity and Supreme Emergency: Law and Morality at the End of Law
22 Pages Posted: 22 May 2009 Last revised: 16 Jun 2012
Date Written: May 18, 2009
This paper employs Michael Walzer's concept of "Supreme Emergency" to address the permissibility of torture under conditions of necessity. It proposes moving beyond both utilitarian and deontological approaches to legal authority in order to understood necessity as a moral category. A full account of right action under conditions of necessity therefore demands taking account of the distinct yet cooperative function provided by legal and moral norms. A political official might therefore possess moral but not legal warrant to act in contravention of binding legal norms. Preserving the validity of law is essential to the economy of social reconstitution in the aftermath of political tragedy.
Keywords: Walzer, Torture, Supreme Emergency, Necessity, Ethics, Morality, Punishment, Judgment
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