Torture, can a not evil character justify doing it?


Advice

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TheGreatWot wrote:
Please tell me that "chakat" doesn't mean what I think it means in your name.

Well, that depends on what you think it means. If you think it means that a Bernard Doove inspired Champions character I was toying around with decided to set up camp in my brain as a fursona then you are right.

Rysky wrote:
Chakat Firepaw wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Chakat Firepaw wrote:
My main point was that torture is that in a world with magic like that, torture for information is justifiable in the first place.
It’s not.
It is possible for the evil of inflicting torture is less than the evil of not getting some piece of information.
Nope. Mainly because this is a flimsy pretense that banks on “the torture is definitely going to work and lead to good outcome”.

Way to _completely ignore_ the very next sentence. Now, care to respond to my actual position or are you just going to play this delete and ignore game? (If so, say so so I can dismiss you as not conversing in good faith.)

Just to be clear, in case you missed it:

That premise doesn't in any way say that torture will work, just that there are cases where "not getting information X" is worse than "engaging in torture." That's all, nothing more.

If torture doesn't work, (such as in RL), then it is impossible to avoid the evil of not getting the information by torturing but that doesn't make not getting the information any less of an evil.

Once more, so that you have more to pretend to not read: That does not assume torture will work, it is just setting up a point of comparison between situations where it can and cannot work.

Rysky wrote:
Quote:
In a world like that described by the PF rules, you can get into such situations meaning that torturing someone for information may be justifiable as the least evil option. (N.B. It's never a good option but sometimes there simply isn't a good option to choose.)
There’s always another option other than torture. It’s only justifiable in the “i want to do it, therefore it’s justified” way of thought.

If that other option is to allow some other evil and you are in a world where torture can work to extract information, (such as, say, one in which spells like Zone of Truth exist), you are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils. Now, you can believe that it is impossible for there to be an evil worse than torture but that is a rather extreme and hard to defend position.

Remember that what we are speaking of is justification as the lesser evil: The lesser evil is still evil.

(Are you perhaps confused about the context? This line of discussion is a bit tangential to the OP after all and is about the addition of truth detecting/extracting magic changing the ability to justify torture in general, not for characters of any particular alignment.)


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Are we now arguing that torture is not evil, or that torture can sometimes be the lesser evil? Because, yeah. Torture can always be the lesser of two evils. If you need to torture someone to stop Rovagug from escaping, I'd consider it the lesser of the two.

The only problem that I can think of is that in a game like Pathfinder, there are pretty much always better alternatives to torture. In a hypothetical scenario where there are absolutely no alternatives, I'd say that torture can be considered the lesser evil.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Chakat Firepaw wrote:
That premise doesn't in any way say that torture will work, just that there are cases where "not getting information X" is worse than "engaging in torture." That's all, nothing more.
I didn't ignore it, but that statement still stands on the notion of torture being effective, and the person being tortured being absolutely truthful. If there's something calamitous about to happen, then those odds are nil.
Quote:
Once more, so that you have more to pretend to not read:
And you accuse me of not conversing in good faith.
Quote:
That does not assume torture will work, it is just setting up a point of comparison between situations where it can and cannot work.
The more dire the circumstances, the less likely torture will work, not more. And it wasn't likely to work to begin with.
Quote:
If that other option is to allow some other evil and you are in a world where torture can work to extract information, (such as, say, one in which spells like Zone of Truth exist),
Zone of Truth does not compel anyone to speak, nor is it unbeatable, so again, still not justifiable.
Quote:
you are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils. Now, you can believe that it is impossible for there to be an evil worse than torture but that is a rather extreme and hard to defend position.
I haven't claimed there wasn't anything more evil than torture, but that torture is your go to or the only option is the rather hard to defend position.
Quote:
Remember that what we are speaking of is justification as the lesser evil: The lesser evil is still evil.
Yes, but you seem to be operating under the assumption that there are only two options, torture, or do nothing.
Quote:
(Are you perhaps confused about the context? This line of discussion is a bit tangential to the OP after all and is about the addition of truth detecting/extracting magic changing the ability to justify torture in general, not for characters of any particular alignment.)

Show me spells that are infalliable and also compel speech, I don't know of any.


Rysky wrote:
Chakat Firepaw wrote:
That premise doesn't in any way say that torture will work, just that there are cases where "not getting information X" is worse than "engaging in torture." That's all, nothing more.
I didn't ignore it, but that statement still stands on the notion of torture being effective, and the person being tortured being absolutely truthful.

Since it is clear that you don't actually want to engage with my position, I'll let you go off and talk with the fantasy you have cooked up in your mind.

Shadow Lodge

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McDaygo wrote:
So I’m having an alignment issue. About to roll a new character and decided I wanted him skilled in the art of torture but didn’t necessarily want him to be evil. When he would torture it would be because it must happen in his opinion, never for pleasure and he would heal the damage after (kinetic healer, give them the point of burn). I’m sure I could justify Chaotic Neutral but would Chaotic Good be too much a stretch?

Stretched to breaking.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Slyme wrote:
I love morality debates about a world where you run around murdering sentient beings and stealing their belongings, then leave their bodies to rot where they fell the vast majority of the time.

Only until the first time a necromancer raises the bodies as undead on them. Then they will make sure to burn the next combats results to cinders.

Won't stop the cinderghosts from rising but at least it keeps the field clear.


TOZ wrote:
McDaygo wrote:
So I’m having an alignment issue. About to roll a new character and decided I wanted him skilled in the art of torture but didn’t necessarily want him to be evil. When he would torture it would be because it must happen in his opinion, never for pleasure and he would heal the damage after (kinetic healer, give them the point of burn). I’m sure I could justify Chaotic Neutral but would Chaotic Good be too much a stretch?
Stretched to breaking.

I would consider CN to be a stretch. A chaotic neutral person should have some kind of line they aren't going to cross for personal gain, and if that line is past "torture" you're in serious danger of being evil.

Like CN should be something like "I will fight for whoever pays the best, but I won't kill civilians." I think LN has a lot more wiggle room for evil since they have the "I was given a direct order by a superior officer" defense and "following the chain of command" is their whole thing.

Shadow Lodge

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“Only following orders” is the tag line for LE.


TOZ wrote:
“Only following orders” is the tag line for LE.

I'm just saying "doing an evil act" when you are commanded to do so and you are a person for whom "following orders" is important is much more defensible than if you are a wholly self-directed person who does what they want and takes orders from no one.

Shadow Lodge

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Anyone can justify their actions all they want. Won’t change the reality of them.


PossibleCabbage, you're comparing LE to CE. Both are equally Evil in Pathfinder's rules.


Finally at a keyboard, so I can write a full answer.

The point I was trying to make was that although it is very easy to say on the face of it that torture is evil, I think the OP was looking at are there any circumstances where it can be justified. To answer that, I took the widest definition of torture, which included the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and even underhand and misleading interrogation techniques e.g. "if you don't talk, you're gonna spend a night in the cells and you know what they do in there...so talk".

I fully accept that I have conflated interrogation and torture, as I could not think of any torture reason that was not related to interrogation that could be justified as non-evil. The question is, at what stage does an interrogation technique become torture? The next question would be: is that interrogation technique (whether you consider it a form of torture or not) justified in the current circumstances?


Hugo Rune wrote:
I'm not going to disagree that torturing someone for the sake of it isn't evil. But neither do I think that a captured assassin is going to reveal who hired him in exchange for a plate of cookies. I also think your second, blackmail example, sits on the spectrum as the priest would be psychologically tortured.

To use a real world example of how a plate of cookies turned an enemy into an informant, check out Abu Jandal. You're severely overrating the practical utility in torture.

Threatening to defame someone certainly isn't a good act, but calling it psychological torture is like saying that a wet willy is basically malicious wounding.


And again, interrogation techniques don't have to involve pain.

Think good cop, bad cop. Unless the bad cop actually starts hurting the subject, that can't cross into torture.

The discussion needs to nail down a specific for torture because at this point, someone could argue that working a full time job is torture...


Mysterious Stranger wrote:

In world where spells that can reliable get the truth without torture I would say that torturing someone is an evil act. In a world without magic you can make the argument that torture is sometimes necessary to get the truth when someone is not willing to cooperate. Many of the spells that could be used in place of torture are not high level spells. Zone of truth and detect thoughts are both second level spells. This means they only require a 3rd level caster.

With magic there are so many ways to get at the truth that are not available in the real world. This means that how things are done in a Pathfinder campaign may not be the way they were historically done. Why torture someone to confess to a murder when you can simply use speak with dead and ask the victim who killed them?

Spells that can get reliable truth? Detect thoughts can be resisted, zone of truth can easily be defeated by not speaking.

If you truly need the answer, torture them and use magic to confirm that you're getting the correct answer.

I'll also say that I don't think torture is automatically evil. The fundamental problem with torture is that you don't know if you're getting the right answer or not--but magic changes that. With a means of confirming the truth and someone whose crimes would get the death penalty I will call torture neutral, not evil.


Doing something evil and getting results does not make it less evil. What gets the death penalty and what doesn't is subjective. Evil and Good are objective- torture is always evil, creating undead is always evil, deliberately harming innocents is always evil, etc.


Xaimum Mafire wrote:

And again, interrogation techniques don't have to involve pain.

Think good cop, bad cop. Unless the bad cop actually starts hurting the subject, that can't cross into torture.

The discussion needs to nail down a specific for torture because at this point, someone could argue that working a full time job is torture...

Thank you for your replies. As I had said I had widened the definition and included all forms of interrogation and my question is based on is the technique justifiable in the circumstances. Taking the good cop/bad cop example in two different scenarios:

1. A small-time teenage drug dealer is arrested. The bad cop threatens the teenager with jail unless he supplies the details on his supplier; describing how he is going to be gang raped every night. All the while the cops are fairly sure the supplier has coerced the teenager with threats against his family. In the teenager's mind they will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't and under tremendous psychological pressure.

2. A mob boss is arrested and similarly threatened by the bad cop unless he turns informant. The mob boss's reaction is likely to along the lines of a sneer and to ask whether thinking about it turns the bad cop on. The technique is entirely ineffectual and has delivered the upper hand to the one being interrogated.

This is the same technique, performed by the same people in two different circumstances. In the first, it was unnecessary and cruel (evil in game terms). In the second it was too soft a technique and a different form of leverage is required - perhaps sleep deprivation (lights left on, placed in a cell with a loud drunk, offered food and water just as nodding off etc) and humiliation (ignored, forced to go to the toilet in public, not enough toilet roll, bent cutlery, cold food etc) to generate anger and a lack of clear thought and repeat questioning to catch the mob boss in a lie would be justifiable.

By some definitions, sleep deprivation and humiliation are considered torture, as is waterboarding. I don't think that there is a plain and simple line that says this form of interrogation is universally acceptable and this is universally wrong. There are clear extremes (e.g. offering cookies and painfully maiming people) and a very large grey area in the middle. Where that line sits within the grey area is dependent on the circumstances and motivations of those involved.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Removed a post. Peoples lived experiences aren't opinions to be changed.

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