What is Inhuman Treatment?

Murtagh, Kevin
January 2012
Criminal Law & Philosophy;Jan2012, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p21
Academic Journal
In this article, I propose and argue for a conception of inhuman treatment. In the human rights context, I claim, inhuman treatment is that which is grossly degrading. Relative to 'cruel,' 'inhumane,' and 'degrading,' 'inhuman' has received little attention from moral philosophers. My aim here is to analyze this concept in greater depth in order to determine what it brings to discussions about punishment and other kinds of treatment. I begin by drawing distinctions between 'inhuman,' 'inhumane,' and 'degrading.' Then, I discuss analyses of 'inhuman treatment' proposed by Jeremy Waldron and John Vorhaus. Although I find both conceptions problematic, discussing each helps me to set the stage for my proposal. After articulating and arguing for my own conception, I conclude by briefly explaining some of its implications.


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