Straw Men

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William Saletan compares torturers to people who execute death-row prisoners and people who perform abortions. He writes:

In the fury of a moral backlash, naming names and holding people accountable feels like the right thing to do. But before you go down that road, remember that the choice of targets won't always be yours.

A reader points out the false equivalence:

His logic would be acceptable if it wasn't that execution is legal under public law while torture is only 'legal' under executive secret law. Conflating the two is extremely dangerous and factually wrong.

How does anyone get to the utilitarian argument without confronting the illegal argument? I guess I've been asking this question for six years so it's a little optimistic to expect clarity at this point.

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