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What Is an Idealist Justification of Punishment?

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Guys/Gals,

I couldn't think of the proper category to put this in so I just put it in the Objectivist Living Room. My question is in the topic but I will repeat it anyway- What is an Idealist Justification of Punishment? If the nature of reality to them is simply one cooked up the minds of individuals how can you possibly justify punishing someone?

Thanks,

David C.

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In the view of many, payment.

Michael

I hate to be that person but can you explain this a bit further, I don't really understand what you mean. Do you mean like physically pay them money?

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David,

There are only two reasons to impose retaliatory punishment.

(Obviously, a bully punishes others just because he thinks he's powerful enough to get away with it and he likes the feeling of such power. But that's not reasonable or rational, so that's not what we are talking about.)

1. Revenge.

2. Retribution.

In the case of revenge, it is simply harming for harming. An imitation at root.

In the case of retribution (and I admit, I am using a very restricted meaning for this), there are moral and legal rules to abide by within a group. The "tribute" one pays for belonging to that group is obedience to those rules. When an individual does not willingly pay such "tribute," there is a "retribute" imposed on him. That is the punishment. That is the payment.

(Recall the phrase for a person who has done time, "he paid his debt to society.")

Why group?

With any two people, you automatically have a group. For one person to punish another, you need at least two. So even on the level of two people, you will find an implicit code of rules that demand "tribute" for the two to continue as a group.

The trick for a rational philosophy is to bring this "tribute" under reason with concepts like individual rights. Otherwise, it becomes a bullying group that favors some individuals over others.

That's how I see it. I believe others do, too.

In fact, to escape the rules and punishments of a group, you literally have to find a way to leave that group and act and/or live elsewhere. Often the members of a group do not like that and they will hunt you down if you leave.

I'm not saying this is good or bad with this observation. I'm merely identifying it as a human reality.

As to evaluation, I definitely believe some groups need destroying. A good quality group is hard to come by.

Michael

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I discussed the issue of punishment in "A Killer's Right to Life" (the editor's title, not mine) in the November 1996 issue of Liberty Magazine, beginning on page 46. The pdf file of that issue may be found here.

http://www.libertyunbound.com/sites/files/printarchive/Liberty_Magazine_November_1996.pdf

This is a critique of capital punishment. I wrote it, at the instigation of Bob Kephart, as what I call an "experimental" piece. That is to say, I was undecided about capital punishment, so I decided to see if I could make a strong case against it. I'm not sure if I would agree with all my own arguments today, but the article also contains a useful survey of traditional theories of punishment.

Two critiques were published in the May 1997 issue of Liberty, and I replied (in an article titled "Inalienable Rigths?") in the July 1997 issue.

Ghs

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Guys/Gals,

I couldn't think of the proper category to put this in so I just put it in the Objectivist Living Room. My question is in the topic but I will repeat it anyway- What is an Idealist Justification of Punishment? If the nature of reality to them is simply one cooked up the minds of individuals how can you possibly justify punishing someone?

Thanks,

David C.

Not for revenge but only to discourage future crimes. Revenge is negative and destructive. As for the death penalty, even if the crime could be proved beyond all doubt--it can't across all cases--it badly damages the social weal not to mention many people involved in carrying out the sentence.

--Brant

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After 'deterrence' and 'retribution' (or maybe prior to them) is the necessity of a criminal's permanent 'removal' from society - of which capital punishment is a type. I am still unsure on this, but a mandatory full life sentence for certain crimes with aggravating circumstances, fulfils the other two criteria. Putting maximum power into a government's hands while avoiding personal involvement is always problematic. The added cost of incarceration as a tax burden on citizens would be more than balanced out by them being released from "damages [to] the social weal" as Brant put it. It's seemed to me that for capital punishment to be properly moral, every citizen of a country must be prepared to personally pull the lever, push the button, to carry out the execution.

(Imagine that civic responsibility, like doing jury duty...)

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After 'deterrence' and 'retribution' (or maybe prior to them) is the necessity of a criminal's permanent 'removal' from society - of which capital punishment is a type. I am still unsure on this, but a mandatory full life sentence for certain crimes with aggravating circumstances, fulfills the other two criteria. Putting maximum power into a government's hands is always a problem. The added cost of incarceration as a tax burden on citizens would be more than balanced out by them being released from "damages [to] the social weal" as Brant put it. It's seemed to me that for capital punishment to be properly moral, every citizen of a country must be prepared to personally pull the lever, push the button, to carry out the execution.

(Imagine that civic responsibility, like doing jury duty...)

What is moral about that? This is a queer twist on the idea everybody must consent to a government or the government is without moral sanction leaving anarchy as the moral alternative.

--Brant

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I'm both, a private-personal 'anarchist' who also sees the absolute necessity and morality of the monopoly of force given to a limited government.

In practice, obviously the second would have sway over the individual, which shouldn't at all affect a moral person. Still, personal responsibility cannot be escaped ever. The government acts (or should) on our behalf - if it can justify executions, tacitly we all do.

(Pulling the lever oneself was a thought experiment).

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(Pulling the lever oneself was a thought experiment).

Interesting. I just saw this a couple of days ago...

Utah could be only state to allow firing squads for carrying out a death penalty if there is a shortage of execution drugs, but Republican Gov. Gary Herbert won't say if he'll sign the measure passed by the state Senate on Tuesday.

The passage of the bill comes as states struggle to obtain lethal injection drugs amid a nationwide shortage.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Ray of Clearfield, touted the measure as being a more humane form of execution. Ray argued that a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths that have occurred in botched lethal injections.

The bill gives Utah options, he said. "We would love to get the lethal injection worked out so we can continue with that but if not, now we have a backup plan," Ray told The Associated Press.

http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/utah-firing-squads-lethal/2015/03/11/id/629434/#ixzz3VhlrBKCf

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I'm both, a private-personal 'anarchist' who also sees the absolute necessity and morality of the monopoly of force given to a limited government.

In practice, obviously the second would have sway over the individual, which shouldn't at all affect a moral person. Still, personal responsibility cannot be escaped ever. The government acts (or should) on our behalf - if it can justify executions, tacitly we all do.

(Pulling the lever oneself was a thought experiment).

If I personally know someone is guilty of a capital crime against me--that is my loved one--he couldn't run fast enough through his state of anarchy, de facto or de jure, to escape from me. He'll need the law to protect his ass so he better hope it's there.

--Brant

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God would have mercy, I wouldn't. Someone f's with my family? The world would be too small for him to hide in...no I'm not nice. No the pussy canadian government would not impose proper justice. Not for me. No nothing would bring back my family but I would still carve his heart out with a spoon and feed it to him before his last breath.

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Guys/Gals,

I couldn't think of the proper category to put this in so I just put it in the Objectivist Living Room. My question is in the topic but I will repeat it anyway- What is an Idealist Justification of Punishment? If the nature of reality to them is simply one cooked up the minds of individuals how can you possibly justify punishing someone?

Thanks,

David C.

Not for revenge but only to discourage future crimes. Revenge is negative and destructive. As for the death penalty, even if the crime could be proved beyond all doubt--it can't across all cases--it badly damages the social weal not to mention many people involved in carrying out the sentence.

--Brant

Thanks, I found this same response in all of Kant and Berkleys work but it still confuses me. They never address the concept of reality with regard to punishment. If reality is made up in the minds of indivduals how can you punish someone?

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