Both Torture and Morality require Theory of Mind


Being “Broken on the Wheel”. Europe, 14th century.

In reading Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and I’ve been shocked at the cruelty in earlier centuries. Particularly striking are the broad range of torture techniques and the widespread use of torture (chapter 4).

What is torture? What is cruelty? I’ll propose definitions:

  • Torture: a technique designed to inflict pain and suffering on a subject
  • Cruelty: Intentional induction of pain and suffering on a subject.

Continue reading