In every war, information is a weapon. In a "war against terrorism", where the adversary wears no uniform and hides among the civilian population, information can matter even more. But does that mean that torture can sometimes be justified to extract information in such extreme situations? Using the utilitarianism theory, torture can be and is morally justified in some extreme cases, however, torture ought not to be legalized or otherwise institutionalized outside these extreme cases. Before proceeding to the question of the moral justifiability of torture and understanding of what the Utilitarianism Theory is, what it means for something to be morally justified, what torture is and when it is used and what are situations where torture is morally justified is needed.
The utilitarianism theory is an ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility (Utility is defined in various ways, including as pleasure, economic well-being and the lack of suffering) and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons. Utilitarianism is also a form of consequentialism, which implies that the "end justifies the means". This view can be contrasted or combined with seeing intentions, virtues or the compliance with rules as ethically important. Many forms of utilitarianism have been put forth and debated since times of ancient philosophy however the more modern and well known theory is most often associated with the British philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806- 1873) who developed the theory from a plain hedonistic version put forward by his mentor Jeremy Bentham (1748- 1832). .
A major part of utilitarianism theory is that something is virtuous and/or morally right/ justified, as long as it is directed towards promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons. If the objective is good or allows the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people, then it does not matter if the way to achieve it is bad or wrong or evil; therefore the ends justifies the means.