Academic Vs. Pragmatic

This to me seems sometimes to be the dividing line between the conservatives and the liberals. Let me give you an example, the torture question.
The conservative opinion: We are fighting to prevent innocent Americans from dying, in this cause it is acceptable to us to engage in torture "light' if it will get the job done. These are after all bad people that deserve to suffer if it will save Americans.

The liberal opinion: We are fighting a war for here but that doesn't give us the right to violate the civil liberties of Americans and foreign nationals. People have rights under us and international law and torturing them even lightly is a violation of these laws, so no torture.

As succinctly as I can state it, somewhat simplified. The problem is that both sides are ignoring the relevant points of the other side. Both camps happily parrot the party line without giving serious weight to alternate possibilities.