instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, December 19, 2014

Full spectrum

The diagram in my previous post is incomplete, emphasizing the self-serving nature of some of the justification of the CIA's enhanced interrogation program.

Here's a diagram that shows all eight possibilities given the three questions "Is waterboarding torture?", "Is torture evil?", and "Is waterboarding evil?" (You're right, the purple region is logically incoherent; if you get a yes to the first two questions, nothing good will come from asking the third.)

Special pleading in defense of the CIA program lies inside the yellow region. "Sure, torture is evil, but waterboarding isn't torture, so/and waterboarding isn't evil."

A good number of people spend a good amount of time arguing that waterboarding isn't torture (the gray, red, orange, and yellow regions). Since my earlier question hasn't garnered much of a response, let me rephrase it:
If you insist the term "torture" be so narrowly defined that it excludes waterboarding, then what term do you use for the more general category of evil behavior that encompasses both torture and waterboarding?
This question will be question-begging for those in the gray, red, and yellow regions. I intend it to be. The purpose of the question is to come up with a way of talking to the people in the orange region, who from my perspective are playing semantic games that serve principally as material support of grave evil. Addressing the moral or intellectual failings of those outside the orange region requires a different tack.