How to Justify Torture: Inside the Ticking Bomb Scenario

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Watkins Media Limited, Sep 10, 2019 - Philosophy - 160 pages
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From Batman Begins to Tom Clancy, How to Justify Torture shows how contemporary culture creates simplified narratives about good guy torturers and bad guy victims, how dangerous this is politically, and what we can do to challenge it.

If there was a bomb hidden somewhere in a major city, and you had the person responsible in your custody, would you torture them to get the information needed to stop the bomb exploding, preventing a devastating terrorist attack and saving thousands of lives?

This is the ticking bomb scenario -- a thought experiment designed to demonstrate that torture can be justified.

In How to Justify Torture, cultural critic Alex Adams examines the ticking bomb scenario in-depth, looking at the ways it is presented in films, novels, and TV shows -- from Batman Begins and Dirty Harry to French military thrillers and home invasion narratives. By critiquing its argument step by step, this short, provocative book reminds us that, despite what the ticking bomb scenario will have us believe, torture can never be justified.

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About the author (2019)

Alex Adams is a literary and cultural critic and novelist based in North East England. He was awarded his PhD from Newcastle University in 2014, and has published widely on the subject of torture and popular culture. How to Justify Torture is his second book. He likes real ale and dogs.

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