Ethics of torture, reality of ticking time bombs explored

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO--The ethics of torture weighed against the potential disaster of a ticking time bomb will be examined during an upcoming ethics discussion at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Peter Barry, associate professor of philosophy at Saginaw Valley State University, will speak at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Room 213 of the Bernhard Center. The title of his talk, which is free and open to the public, is "Fantasy, Conceivability and Ticking Bombs."

Barry joined the SVSU faculty in 2005 and received master's degrees from Bowling Green State University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a doctoral degree from the University of Florida. His research is in ethics, broadly conceived, and legal philosophy. He is completing a book, to be published later this year, that is dedicated to the subject of evil and evil people. It is titled "Evil and Moral Psychology."

In his talk at WMU, Barry will explore how debates about torture invariably return to the familiar ticking-bomb scenario, and this is the case whether philosophers, politicians or pundits are participating in them. While the rhetorical force of appealing to the ticking bomb is clear enough, its legitimacy is now being disputed, with opponents of torture increasingly recognizing ticking-bomb scenarios as not merely rare or improbable, but impossible.

Barry's lecture is sponsored by WMU's Center for the Study in Ethics in Society. Visit for more information.