Sunday, September 29, 2013

Idle Thoughts -- Forward vs Backward Punishment

Explain forward looking and backward looking theories of punishment. Which approach seems the most reasonable to you? Why?

Well, we just explained both of those in the previous post. If you need some sort of new explanation, I suppose I can come up with one but I think before we recover this ground, check out the old posts. Now as to which I find most acceptable…

I'm really not off-topic, just bear with me and you'll see how this connects. One of the most common logical errors is called forced choice false dichotomy. In application it means that you give people two choices and demand that they pick one or the other. For example, you go to a restaurant and the person with you says, you can have a drink of milk or you can have orange juice. Maybe you want a Coca-Cola. But they have only given you two choices. The menu lists a lot more choices. You should not let them force you to choose between these two things. At least, not if you're over about six.

One of the reasons this is a common logical fallacy is because of what is been pointed out in Steven Pinker's book How the Mind Works, we human beings tend to think in polarities. It seems natural that the human mind just has to think of this or that and ignore all the possibilities in between.

And now back to how that connects to the topic at hand.

I do not argue with Immanuel Kant. Justice must be done, or what is the meaning of the law? Those who have broken the law, especially if they have committed harm to others, should be punished for it. This is simple justice.

Therefore, I agree with negative justice.

I also agree with those who believe that the purpose of justice must go beyond simple justice. Positive justice requires that we do our best to prevent crimes from occurring in the future. It also requires a government to do its best to take a criminal and try to turn him into a useful member of society will contribute to instead of causing harm, to that society.

Therefore I agree with positive justice.

I do not see that there is a conflict between these two. Yes, I understand how people can think there is such a conflict and even believe that very passionately. However, I simply do not see it as so.

There is no reason we cannot adopt both procedures. In the process of punishing the criminal for his crime, negative justice, we can also take actions which help prevent crime in the future and rehabilitate him into a decent and productive member of society.

I see no conflict, as I have already stated. It only makes sense to me that we should do both. Doing only either one is shortsighted and limiting our capacities when they do not need to be limited.

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