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Study Questions: Torture and Scientific Advancement

Using the articles in the "Is There a Case for Torture?" in your textbook (Michael Levin, "The Case For Torture"; Alan M. Dershowitz, "The Case For Torture Warrants"; Cathy Young, "How Much Torture Is OK?"; John McCain, "Torture's Terrible Toll") apply the authors' arguments for or against torture as a defense against terrorism to answer the following question:

Are we justified in using the scientific and medical advancements that came out of the Nazi torture and experimentation on unwilling test subjects during World War II? Why, or why not?


  1. Find ways to address the definition of "torture" and the limits of that definition. To what extent (if any) is medical experimentation a form of torture? By extension, should we feel justified in using the benefits of extreme rendition that involves psychological and physical torture? Are terms such as "benefit" and "advancement" the same in all cases where force is used to obtain data? Why, or why not?

  2. After your group arrives at a general consensus on the matter, support your position in three different ways with three different rhetorical appeals:

      1. pathos

      2. logos

      3. ethos

Then, anticipate one strong opposing argument to your position, name the opponent as specifically as possible, then outline a counterargument acknowledges, accommodates and substantively refutes that argument in defense of your position. Focus on just one of the three rhetorical appeals in your refutation.

Last Updated: 01/15/2016


Karl J. Sherlock
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