03/02/2010 16:59

Is the Ticking Time Bomb a Dud?

Joseph Spino
Western Michigan University

Is the Ticking Time Bomb a Dud?

Some thought experiments lead us to surprising conclusions like the now famous ticking time bomb case. If any action seems a likely candidate for absolute moral prohibition, it is the intentional torture of another human being. And yet, the ticking time bomb
thought experiment seems to present a situation where torture would be permissible. In this paper, I will carefully examine this thought experiment and ultimately provide grounds for barring its results from being used in discussions of justified torture in the real world. I propose that the most promising method for disarming the ticking time
bomb involves a discussion of the necessity of torture built into the thought experiment. The inclusion of necessity into the ticking time bomb case turns it into nothing more than a variation of the famous trolley problem thought experiment. As such, the thought experiment should not be used in real life policy discussions.