Commenter Steve GW asks some good questions in reference to my post below on Sun Tzu's stance against torture (which is basically consequentialist):
The answer is, yes, there are resources in ancient Chinese philosophy for an anti-torture argument. And the first place I will look is in Mencius.
Torture is not mentioned explicitly in Mencius, but the book is well known for its general position against warfare and killing. Not all warfare and killing are justified but there are certain circumstances that might yield justifiable war and killing, circumstances associated with violations of Humane governance.
It is, however, the latter point made by SteveGW which is most apt. I think it is clear that Mencius would agree that we should not torture others because it would harm the character of the torturer. In Confucian terms, a noble-minded person would not torture. And since Confucianism wants to expand noble-mindedness to as many people as possible, there would be a general Confucian aversion to torture.
A couple of passages from Mencius come to mind here. Here's this from 3.6 (2A.6):
This is part of the famous Mencian view that human nature is inherently good. To be true to ourselves, to be noble-minded and work toward Humanity by fulfilling Duty according to Ritual, we must allow our innate goodness to be expressed in all of our actions towards others. There is a consequentialist aspect to this - when our actions are morally correct, we will exercise a certain morally charismatic power over others and goverment will be effective and just - but it is not primarily consequentialist. We do not do good in order to govern well; rather we do good because doing so is in keeping with our inherent human nature and the natural love we feel for those closest to us. Doing bad distorts us. Good government is a secondary effect of performing one's primary duties to family and friends and acquaintances.
It is safe to say (regardless of the twisted logic of the Bush torture memos) that torture inflicts suffering. The noble-minded, who conscientiously cultivate their appetite for Duty and Humanity, are obviously most repelled at the thought of the suffering of others. Thus, the noble-minded would not take up torture themselves,. And they would advise anyone else to avoid it so as to not distort Humanity. To those who would comtemplate torture, Mencius might say (11.14; 6A.14):
Inflicting pain and suffering on others is obviously "small" and "worthless." Those who do so are "small people," morally underdeveloped. Mencius wants us all to aspire to be "great people;" we can all be like Shun and Yao. We just have to do the right thing. And torture is not the right thing.
And to those who might say that torture might be permissable some time, for some sorts of reasons, Mencius might reply (13.17; 7A.17):
There are some things that should obviously not be done, like inflicting pain on others, which goes so fundamentally against our human instincts. Just don't do it, he is saying. This would be something like a Mencian "shock the conscience" test.
I could go on, but have to leave off there for now. Long story short: there is a Confucian argument against torture. And I think there is a Daoist one as well, but that will have to wait for another day....