Why punish?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by tctjh, Apr 8, 2003.

  1. tctjh Registered Member

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    Are there any other philosophical reasons other than social order that support punishment? It seems to me that punishment is always unjust because no one can be evil. One can become evil in one of two ways, either they are that way by nature or molded by their evnvironment. In other words, in the sense of actions we are not free but we are free. In any given circumstance we can choose to do a or b, but we will pick the choice that either nature or environment instilled us to do (a). However we could still choose be, but we can't, we no matter what have to choose what our nature or environment has programmed us to pick. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone so let me know if it doesnt. Being that our choices are outside our control in any given situation, how can we be at fault? If we are not at fault how can we punish? How could God punish? Social order was the one idea that popped into my head, but it seems quite unjust punishing someone for something that is not their fault unless of course justice is social order. If anyone needs it, ill elaborate on why we are not at fault.

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  3. fredx Banned Banned

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    even though nature and...

    environment has caused you to be a partcular way, now that you are aware of that, why could you not then change if you wanted to? The awareness is key. If you can't be otherwise than what nature or environment dictates than this is all a mute point anyway.
     
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  5. tctjh Registered Member

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    If I'm in a candy store and I'm thinking about stealing candy, all I can think about is what I have been taught before or been instilled in me by nature. Even if I am aware of this I still have to make the decision whether to steal the candy. The awareness of the situation I have was also instilled in me at a previous state by environment or nature. Thus if you stole the candy because you were not aware it can not be your fault just for the fact that you are unaware and you are being controlled by nature and environment. If you steal the candy and you are aware of this control then you also can not be held at fault because there must have been another reason why you stole it, and this reason defaultly came from nature or environment and also that awareness itself was instilled in you by nature or environment.

    I think this applies best to the question of where does evil come from??? Can it come from anywhere else than nature or environment. If it comes from nature than it can't be the person's fault for being evil. Also if it comes from environment then that can't be the person's fault. So it seems a person is faultless if they are evil, and as such should we punish them for something that is not their fault? Can anyone give me a good answer as to where else evil could come from?
     
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  7. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    You asked why punish other than for social order, but did you mean solely punishment for "evil"?
    (I used "evil" in quotes because I don't agree with the concept of evil)

    Punishment could also be part of a teaching process to keep the "student" from greater harm.

    Punishment of a child, for example, for playing with razor blades.
    Punishing your cat for chewing on an extension cord.

    Are these examples what you are looking for, or are you focusing on punitive action for behavior that (potentially) has negative effects on others?
     
  8. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    You are correct, I have actually made this point in another thread, no one is "guilty" in the way we like to think of them as such. They are merely doing what they feel is the best thing to do at the time, be it eating a banana or burning down an orphanage.
    But at the same time what do you suggest be done in place of punishment? I'd assume that if people were allowed to kill and steal it would happen a hell of a lot more than it does now.
    So I guess its lucky that people feel the need to punish. The people punishing aren't guilty either though, they also are merely doing what they think is right.
    I observe human beings as a species and that way it makes sense. Lots of animals have rituals that defy logic, none more than humans, just watch them and laugh.
     
  9. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    Seeing as how we have similar ideas about basing morality on the basis of the actions in the natural (natural meaning man-free) world around us, I am curious about your perspective on this...


    Do you think the animal kingdom has established social order rules which get punished if not followed?

    or...

    Do you think that the animal kindom is generally Anarchy and the only "punishment" is self defense type immediate retribution (i.e. "You try to eat my babies, and I will kill you to protect them.")?


    Which model do you think we should follow?
     
  10. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    It varies from species to species, the "punishment as a part of the learning process" that you mentioned is common among mammals. Becoming harsher the more difficult the species' life is, which makes sense and is vital for their survival.

    For example I saw a documentary on honey badgers recently and in it a baby honey badger somehow stumbled onto an ants nest where the ants started biting it. Its mother watched this for a while and eventually ran over, picked up her baby in her mouth, took it away from the danger and then violently dropped it on its head to make sure the lesson "if on an ants nest, run away" sunk in.
    I thought to myself "now thats a mother". Human parents commonly unknowingly teach their children things that will not only not be beneficial in the future, but will actually harm and disable them. We aren't very experienced animals.
    Dolphins when teaching their young will punish them for screwing up by depriving them of air for just long enough to make them uncomfortable, seems harsh but its vital for them to be a successful creature.

    Anyway the honey badgers and dolphins activate a types of punishment for their young that make sense and have a point but the reasons people punish eachother often have more to do with their own anger than the betterment of the 'punishee'.

    In nature, adults don't get 'punished' for doing wrong, but they have usually been parented fairly well, or they are primarily guided by instinct and so don't do anything too dispicable.
    When they do they basically will get off scott free, their is no sea-lion police to stop the rampant pedophilism that goes on in patagonia when the mothers are forced by hunger to return to the sea and leave their infant at the mercy of their, often irresponsible, caretaking uncles. Maybe there should be? Who are we to say though? Those irresponsible uncles may be torn apart by a killer whale within the next hour and who will punish the killer whale? No one. Its the way of the world. Litterally.

    I think a modified anarchy could be ok, it seems dangerous but at the same time more logical than the complex semantical jargon that goes on in our society. I'm not saying pedophiles should be allowed to sleep with children whenever they want but it should be up to the parents to fight the pedophile off and not a judge or policeman. A muderer should have to worry about the family of his victim rather than crappy prison food. A thief should be beaten down and have the stolen goods taken back off him and then allowed to run free and ponder whether he should try it again.
    I guess this system might not work, and there would still be many innocent victims that get no justice.
    But, no more than there are under the current system, which I can assure you has many more than you hear about. I think if the system I mentioned above were in practice it would be nasty for a while, maybe a year or so, but eventually people would start understanding the true meaning of "do unto others.." and eventually there would be far less crime than ever before.

    Maybe I'm wrong.
    We'll never know.
     
  11. tctjh Registered Member

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    I like that answer Dr Lou Natic thanks, I think I agree in many ways. Thanks
     
  12. fredx Banned Banned

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    look...

    You are aware that you are going to be punished if you steal something and get caught, whether you think that it is wrong or right or that your are in someway blameless or not guilty because society molded you or nature made you that way doesn't matter, you are still going to get thrown in jail. So if you are thinking of using either nature or nuture as a excuse to do something against the law, it doesn't really fly.
     
  13. machaon Registered Senior Member

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    Punishment exist to insure human(and sometimes animal) behavior is conducted in an adaptive manner. If I engage in behavior that culminates in my ending up in prison, that is maladaptive. I can not breed in prison. The problem lies within who decides what is adaptive and what is maladaptive. In nature, what is adaptive and what is maladaptive is pretty much cut and dry. Punishment is the means by which the genetically inferior are protected and allowed to breed. Sounds mean, but it is the truth.
     
  14. machaon Registered Senior Member

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    733
    Before anyone calls me hitler.....

    Just remember, a sick or weak person can spend just as much money at a shopping mall as can a strong and fit person.....
     
  15. utahraptor Registered Member

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    All you are saying is that humans don't have free will. If there is no reason to punish as you say, then why should we be rewarded? We do not deserve these rewards because we are good one of two ways: we either are that way by nature or we were brought up that way so any thing that happens as a consequence to us is not deserved. We are merely automatons that cannot choose what we do and are simply controlled by circumstances that are beyond our control. In fact what is the point of doing anything since we cannot control our actions. I am glad that I do not live in tctjh's perfect world because I wouldn't get punished, I wouldn't get rewarded I wouldn't have responsibility for my own actions and I would have no reason to live or I would not be myself. There is no way I could be myself (whoever me is) I would be someone very different than who I think I am. I would merely be a person who is controlled not by reason or morality but by my circumstances beyond my control.
     
  16. tctjh Registered Member

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    You bash Utahraptor, but you fail to give an alternative. Prove in anyway that we have freewill. And perhaps, no one should get a reward over others, only equality, would equality be that bad you commie bastard?
     
  17. utahraptor Registered Member

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    I see no reason to give proofs to free will is because I don't agree with your premises. Why don't you give proofs that this world is dterministic. Why don't you prove to me that we are utterly controlled by either nature or nurture. We do have a fundamental control of our actions. We have a basic moral responsibility for our actions. I do agree with the other arguments that have been given for using punishment as a disciplinary tool so as to dissuade others from detrimental actions. But humans have a right to be treated with respect and other humans that deny this are to be held accountable for their actions. Are you saying that we can make no moral judgements on Hitler or Stalin because they are not responsible for murdering millions of people. Perhaps they should only just be prevented from doing it agin because it is detrimental, not because it is wrong. I will not accept this. In life we can make choices to kill or not to kill people we can choose to steal or not to steal. Things like reason and a sense of right and wrong are shared by all of mankind.

    Another thing, if I was a "commie bastard" wouldn't i be a proponent of equality?
     
  18. tctjh Registered Member

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    First of all I'm not "saying" anything. I am only asking for evidence we are not totally controlled by nature or environment. Let's analyze Hitler. He killed millions of people, but why??? Is it his fault that it is his nature to be selfish? Is it his fault that society was not able to correct this flaw? Is it his fault that society may have actually encouraged his flaw? He did kill people and he was aware he was doing it. In his mind there was some advantage to doing it. How did that idea of the advantage to killing people get in his brain? You may say that he was by nature evil and evil deserves to be punished. However, one can not choose their nature and for that matter can not choose their environment. One environment invariably sends a person to the next. All the knowledge you have is experiance and instinct and nature. All of those things totally control you as far as I know seeing no one has given me a convincing argument of where else we get our decision making power from.
    To help out with my perspective, start with the question of if a person knows right and wrong, what causes some to still kill sometimes? Is it because they are just bad people or super selfish or have a flawed sense of reason? Where do all those questions lead one to? The answer is nature or environment. Seeing one can not pick either of those beforehand how can they be at fault?

    By the way, i was being ironic with the commie bastard thing.

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  19. fredx Banned Banned

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    dude...

    you sound hopeless, why don't you put an end to this post and get on with your life, because I think if you read it all through one more time, I think you would see how you are running in circles and chasing your tail. Be what you want to be, do what you want to do, I am saying that because I know you will eventually find someone who will tell you that since thats what you want and I hate to see you waste any more time because I know you are going to do what you want to do anyway.

    The philosopher Jean Paul Sartre said it best, when we go to someone for advice we already know what kind of advice we are going to get beforehand and I might add that it is usually the advice that we want to hear.

    Also face it there is no absolute freedom to be exactly who we want to be, we are constantly conditioned and shaped by the world we live in and we are born with certain traits that predispose us to behave in certain ways. Still, I think that we do have enough free will and freedom of choice to do what we need to do and be what we need to be happy, and in the end that is really all that matters unless you are content to be a miserable piece of crap.
     
  20. utahraptor Registered Member

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    nice call fred x
     
  21. fredx Banned Banned

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    thanks man

    ...
     
  22. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    Satre was a hack and he's being disproven by science a little more each day.
    People DO have a free will just like most other living things, but the thing is, the reason you will use your free will to decide to do something is out of your control. Someones logic might tell them that throwing a baby off a cliff is a good idea, they can't control that logic, they want to do that for a reason and they can't stop that reason from being there.
    All this is common sense.
     
  23. fredx Banned Banned

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    personally...

    i am tired of beating a dead horse...so thats all you are going to get out of me on this topic.
     

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