Mill’s Utilitarianism and Enhanced Interrogation

Mill’s Utilitarianism and Enhanced Interrogation

Discipline:
Ethics

Type of service:
Essay

Spacing:
Double spacing

Paper format:
MLA

Number of pages:
2 pages

Number of sources:
2 sources

Paper details:

Be sure to describe Mill’s utilitarian theory in detail, using supporting quotes from Utilitarianism (and possibly other primary source material) to emphasize main points. Explain the ultimate good at which moral actions aim according to Mill, and the decision-making procedure offered by the theory. Explain how the theory can be used to reach a decision about the moral status of health-care professionals’ involvement in enhanced interrogation.

Instructions

Read the case below and in an essay of 1000 – 1500 words (4-6 pages double spaced) address the following question: is the 2002 APA ethics code amendment permitting mental health professionals to be present for enhanced interrogation a morally defensible rule according to Mill’s utilitarian theory? In other words, is it morally right, per Mill’s utilitarianism, that mental health professionals be involved in enhanced interrogation?

Be sure to describe Mill’s utilitarian theory in detail, using supporting quotes from Utilitarianism (and possibly other primary source material) to emphasize main points. Explain the ultimate good at which moral actions aim according to Mill, and the decision-making procedure offered by the theory. Explain how the theory can be used to reach a decision about the moral status of health-care professionals’ involvement in enhanced interrogation.

Summarize the main arguments presented by Mill in support of his assertions about the good and how it may be obtained. An adequate summary of these arguments is not simply a list of the conclusions Mill reaches. Instead, an adequate summary consists in a description of the reasons Mill gives and a discussion of the rationale he employs in support of his conclusions, in addition to a brief discussion of the conclusions and their meaning.

Lastly, reflect on your own moral sense and explain where Mill’s theory offers a moral verdict that aligns with your commitments and where the theory contradicts your commitments. Is utilitarianism attractive to you as a theory of moral decision-making? Why or why not? What aspects of the theory do you have reservations about, if any, and why?

Throughout your essay use relevant quotes from Mill’s Utilitarianism to support key points, and cite your sources in MLA format.

NOTE: At least 80% of your essay should be devoted to discussing Mill’s Utilitarianism, and no more than 20% should be allotted to personal reflections on Mill’s theory.

Your submission should be free of all grammar and spelling errors.

CASE

After September 11, 2001, and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration initiated an aggressive program of interrogating detainees. Some “enhanced” interrogation techniques struck critics as inhuman treatment or torture. Methods included forced standing, sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, waterboarding, and threat of harm from dogs. In conducting such interrogations, interrogators sought the services of psychologists, psychiatrists, and medical doctors.

The Code of Medical Ethics, promulgated by the American Medical Association and accepted by the American Psychiatric Association, strictly forbids doctors to participate in any way with torture, since that practice runs counter to the primary stricture to “do no harm.” In 1999, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs had issued Opinion E-2.067 (which still applied), which says, in part, “[p]hysicians must oppose and must not participate in torture for any reason. Participation in torture includes, but is not limited to, providing or withholding any services, substances, or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture. Physicians must not be present when torture is used or threatened.” Furthermore, “[p]hysicians may treat prisoners or detainees if doing so is in [the prisoners’] best interest, but physicians should not treat individuals to verify their health so that torture can begin or continue.”

The Code of Ethics for the American Psychological Association (APA) advises its members to seek to “safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons.” Clearly, the values expressed in the code conflicted with the requirements placed on psychologists by interrogators. To remedy this conflict, in 2002, the APA amended section 1.02 of the Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, entitled “Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority” to read, “[i]f psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict. If the conflict is irresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.” Thus, the code permits psychologists to set aside ethical considerations when these put them at odds with government or military interrogators.

Critics of the new wording say that the APA has abandoned the lessons learned during the Nuremberg Trials, particularly Principle IV, the which states, “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

Defenders of the new wording insist that if psychologists do not attend interrogations they cannot influence or deter interrogators from going too far. They point to the need for an independent party to oversee the situation and perhaps act as an advocate for interest of the detainee.

In October, 2015, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of two surviving detainees and the estate of a deceased third against two psychologists, James Elmer Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, who were allegedly “contracted by the CIA to design, implement, and oversee the agency’s post-9/11 torture program.” According to the ACLU, the plaintiffs are suing Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute for their commission of torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; nonconsensual human experimentation; and war crimes.

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