Admirable immorality, dirty hands, ticking bombs, and torturing innocents

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Is torturing innocent people ever morally required? I rebut responses to the ticking-bomb dilemma by Slote, Williams, Walzer, and others. I argue that torturing is morally required and should be performed when it is the only way to avert disasters. In such situations, torturers act with dirty hands because torture, though required, is vicious. Conversely, refusers act wrongly, yet virtuously, thus displaying admirable immorality. Vicious, morally required acts and virtuous, morally wrong acts are odd, yet necessary to preserve the ticking-bomb dilemma's phenomenology, the role of habituation in moral development, the virtue/continence distinction, and morality's overridingness, consistency, and plausibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-56
Number of pages26
JournalSouthern Journal of Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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