Studying some neuroeconomics has made me even more opposed to torture than I was in the first place. Yes I will make an exception for the ticking nuclear time bomb. But if we are torturing a very very bad person, I don’t see the torture as satisfying justice. The part of the brain which suffers is not the same as the part of the brain which planned the crime. Yes neuroeconomic data are hard to interpret. But under one view, there is a sheer production of pain which is severed, to some extent, from the individual personality of the criminal. It is almost as if we are creating a new suffering entity which consists of little more than pure suffering.
I don’t think this is the most important argument against torture, but it is one additional consideration. Retributive justice does not weigh on the pro-torture side of the scale as much as one might think.
Matt Yglesias surveys what the recent "torture compromise" really means.