Saturday, 25 October 2014

Morality 12: Purposes of Punishment - Retribution

Higher RMPS Podcast
Purposes of Punishment - Retribution

This is available as an MP3 or to download as a podcast through iTunes
for Desktop and Apple devices, as well as PodcastHD for Android Devices.

This may be the oldest of human emotions.  When someone hurts you what is your first instinct?  Hurt them back?  Retribution, or revenge, is punishing someone for something they have done to you or to society.  An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  They do something wrong so we do something equally bad to them.  If someone kills someone we don’t need to kill them, but do we have to let them go?  How would we feel?  We want them punished.  Something inside us, a sense of justice, feels that they should be punished.  In countries where Capital Punishment is legal families feel a sense of justice when the criminal is executed.  Revenge seems to be a harsher word that retribution, but the meaning is the same.

Strengths: We, as a society, feel better when justice has been balanced.  The families of those affected by crime get to see the person that caused them harm receive their just deserves.

Weaknesses:  What if we take revenge on the wrong person?  We may feel better but an innocent is suffering needlessly.  Ghandi famously said “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”.  People may also receive a harsher sentence based on their circumstances; what if the people felt better for fining a millionaire more simply because he has more, but is that fair?

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