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Down came a blackbird : a study in torture

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. J.J. Snyman; Ms. H.L. du Toit en_US
dc.contributor.author Reynard, Paul Andrew
dc.date.accessioned 2012-09-12T07:35:14Z
dc.date.available 2012-09-12T07:35:14Z
dc.date.issued 2012-09-12
dc.date.submitted 1999
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/7542
dc.description M.A. en_US
dc.description.abstract Chapter 1 looks at the continued rationalisation for the use of torture, as supported by certain utilitarian arguments, where it is argued that torture may be an appropriate course of action when a society is under the threat of violent attack. The problem of defining torture is reviewed and a working definition of torture is suggested. Five justifications for torture are discussed, including the hard case scenario, the dilemma of dirty hands, political crime, war and torture as an established practice. These justifications for torture are looked at critically in Chapter 2. The question of how victims are arbitrarily selected and the types of societies where torture could be condoned is also outlined. It is then argued that although interrogation is the prime reason given for the use of torture, torture appears to be used more to quell dissent than for the purposes of gathering information. The relationship between torture and language is also discussed, where it is postulated that torture is a language-shattering experience. Chapter 3 looks at the phenomenology of torture. Phenomenology is defined and a synopsis of the film, Down came a blackbird - which deals with victims of torture in a rehabilitation centre - is proffered. Inferences are drawn from three selected accounts of victims of torture. It is then argued that torture is an intersubjective, embodied experience and the objectification and translation of pain into power is discussed. Further inferences are made from this phenomenology of torture and a subjective state of mind, a sense of injustice, is outlined because of its relevance extends beyond the victim. In light of the dilemma of obtaining phenomenological accounts from torturers, that in order to arrive at a tentative phenomenology of torturers, a sociological approach is suggested as a starting point to Chapter 4. It is argued that concepts such as obedience, socialisation and individual choice contribute to the making of torturers. The torturer's subjective experiences, including the torturer's sense of injustice, are outlined. This sociological approach is broadened and it is argued that torture poisons the social system in which it exists. The language of power is discussed and the torturer's control over language reviewed. The concept of the magnitude gap is outlined so as to illustrate the divide between torturer and victim, including social status and the infliction and objectification of pain. Tentative inferences towards a phenomenology of torturers are then suggested. In the final chapter, the hard case scenario is revisited because it is from this justification that such concepts as "humane torture" emerge. The question of undoing torture, that is, reversing the process once torture has occurred, is critically discussed. To counter the continuation of hard case scenario-like justifications, an absolutist abolitionist position is taken, wherein it is argued that there can be no extenuating circumstances for torture given the language and world-shattering effects torture has on those who become victims. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Torture - Philosophy - Research en_US
dc.subject Torture - Research en_US
dc.subject Human rights - Philosophy en_US
dc.title Down came a blackbird : a study in torture en_US
dc.type Mini-Dissertation en_US


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