The morality of torture in the light of Christian social traditions, with special reference to Australian public opinion Researcher:
Dr Cal Ledsham, Department of Philosophy, Catholic Theological College, East Melbourne.Research Outcome:
A monograph of 25,000 words, with a public launch and media commentary; and a journal article in a refereed publication, by the end of 2014.Funding source:
The Laudel Research Foundation, C/, Dr Gerard Kelly, Chair of the Foundation, Catholic Institute of Sydney.Resources available:
The libraries and facilities of the Melbourne College of Divinity, particularly the specialist Redemptorist Social Justice Library based at Yarra Theological Union. Project Supervisors:
Dr Bruce Duncan CSsR and Dr Paul Rule.
This project surveys what the main Christian traditions have said about the morality of torture, and examines the thinking of leading Christian ethicists in current debates. The project considers the military codes of practice of the Australian intelligence and defence forces, in relation to US military or intelligence practice, with special reference to treatment of people detained as possible terrorists following the 9/11 attacks on New York. It also considers use of interrogation techniques in policing. In addition, the project examines debates about the reliability of information gained through torture.
Relevance of the project: a study by the Australian Red Cross to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions revealed that 40 per cent of respondents thought captured soldiers sometimes deserved to die, and 43 per cent of respondents believed it “OK” to torture captured soldiers to obtain “important military information”. (See ‘Torture OK with many, poll finds’, The Age
, 12 August 2009, www.theage.com.au/national/torture-ok-with-many-finds-20090811-egzl.html).
The research proposal aims to clarify Christian social thinking on this issue, with a view to helping inform public opinion. Researcher:
Dr Cal Ledsham, lecturer at Catholic Theological College.
Dr Cal Ledsham is a member of the Department of Philosophy. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia, a Master of Arts from Monash University, and from Belgium the Master of Arts from the Katholiecke Universiteit Leuven and the Doctor of Philosophy also from the Katholiecke Universiteit Leuven. His studies for these awards all had philosophy as the major or exclusive topic.
His current academic interests including areas of research are medieval philosophy (John Duns Scotus), early modern philosophy (Hume), the problem of philosophical proofs/treatments of the necessity of revelation, and contemporary ethics and political philosophy. He is also a sessional lecturer in the United Faculty of Theology, Parkville and at ACU National.