I was glancing at some of the philosophy journals at the Rock not too long ago, and came upon an argument on the issue of torture. I can't remember the journal or the author; I'll fix the cite when I get that info. Recent discussion of further disturbing pro-fascist statements from our Attorney General brought it to mind again, though.
In essence, the argument of the paper was that, of course, in ticking time-bomb scenarios, one ought to torture. I tend to agree with this; I am, after all, a raving consequentialist, as regular readers will know. However, the article went on to argue that it is nonetheless never a good idea for a government to have policies that permit torture. Even if Dirty Harry's actions were, all things considered, the best options available, government policy should punish them, as having strict, exceptionless policies against torture in order to prevent abuses is much more important than rewarding Dirty Harry's heroism. This I also agree with; after all, the world sadly contains a lot more brutal thugs than it contains heroes, and there's no good way to protect a hero's freedom of action without protecting quite a lot of brutal thugs.
Anyway, just another utilitarian response to torture besides the (also correct, of course) pragmatic arguments that it generally proves counter-productive.