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  #1  
Old 11-29-2011, 01:02 PM
apple
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Default The Blessings of Progressivism

Norway's Mass Murderer Declared Insane, May Not Go To Prison

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/...t-go-to-prison

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Murder 76 people and get not the ridiculous 21 year maximum allowed in Norway, but nothing at all. Why? Cause you managed to convince a few shrinks (who are generally worse than their patients) that you're insane. Sounds like a good deal for murderers, and a very bad deal for innocent people. Lo and behold, progressive policies.

Where's the "great" Scandinavian system of the leftists now?
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  #2  
Old 11-29-2011, 03:03 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Murder 76 people and get not the ridiculous 21 year maximum allowed in Norway, but nothing at all. Why? Cause you managed to convince a few shrinks (who are generally worse than their patients) that you're insane. Sounds like a good deal for murderers, and a very bad deal for innocent people. Lo and behold, progressive policies.

Where's the "great" Scandinavian system of the leftists now?
I'll take somewhat too lax punishments for the incredibly rare mass murderers and generally better quality of life, if we are talking about making a trade.

But although we probably agree on what the best penalty would be in this case, I don't think this is a bad as you are making it out to be. Number 1: there's no particular guarantee that the judge will follow this recommendation. Number 2: he's likely to be confined for a longer time if he is committed to a psych unit, which has no statutory obligation to release him after X amount of time the way the prison system does.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:10 PM
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I'll take somewhat too lax punishments for the incredibly rare mass murderers and generally better quality of life, if we are talking about making a trade.
Mass murderers, murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other criminals get light sentences in five star hotels, while it's open season on innocents, women and children. Also, one is at the mercy of the government, because private gun ownership is forbidden. Worse still, the victims of criminals (and the government) are blamed for being victimized. A Norwegian female social anthropologist said the following things: "Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes." and "Norwegian women must understand that we live in a Multicultural society and adapt themselves to it." Yeah, that is sure to ensure a high quality of life - for murderers and child molesters.

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But although we probably agree on what the best penalty would be in this case, I don't think this is a bad as you are making it out to be. Number 1: there's no particular guarantee that the judge will follow this recommendation.
I'd like to see a judge, one in Norway at that, overrule what "expert" shrinks say.

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Number 2: he's likely to be confined for a longer time if he is committed to a psych unit, which has no statutory obligation to release him after X amount of time the way the prison system does.
Perhaps. But there's hardly a guarantee that we won't have some "experts" saying that he's fully cured in a few years, so he can go back to his favorite activity - murdering children.
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  #4  
Old 11-29-2011, 03:34 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Mass murderers, murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other criminals get light sentences in five star hotels, while it's open season on innocents, women and children.
And yet, a much lower crime rate than here.

you can find idiots in America, and not only or even mostly on the left, blaming rape victims for being raped.
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  #5  
Old 11-29-2011, 05:11 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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And yet, a much lower crime rate than here.
Which has a lot more to do with how homogenous the population is than the efficacy of the police system. The low crime rate is due to cultural reasons, as it is in Japan. Not the nurturing hugs by the Norwegian judicial system.
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  #6  
Old 11-29-2011, 08:01 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Which has a lot more to do with how homogenous the population is than the efficacy of the police system. The low crime rate is due to cultural reasons, as it is in Japan. Not the nurturing hugs by the Norwegian judicial system.
All possibly so. I would not design their system the way it is if I were in charge. I was answering the claim that it's "open season" on innocents of various sorts over there.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:17 PM
Sulla the Dictator Sulla the Dictator is offline
 
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All possibly so. I would not design their system the way it is if I were in charge. I was answering the claim that it's "open season" on innocents of various sorts over there.
Well it is. That they have a low crime rate doesn't change how unjust it is to conceive of criminal justice through the light of criminal interests. Just like a forest without an abundance of hunters doesn't necessarily mean the absence of prey, or ease with which they are hunted.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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I'll take somewhat too lax punishments for the incredibly rare mass murderers and generally better quality of life, if we are talking about making a trade.

But although we probably agree on what the best penalty would be in this case, I don't think this is a bad as you are making it out to be. Number 1: there's no particular guarantee that the judge will follow this recommendation. Number 2: he's likely to be confined for a longer time if he is committed to a psych unit, which has no statutory obligation to release him after X amount of time the way the prison system does.
I think that by now you should know already that apple is an "expert" on all things criminal, terroristic, Muhammadian, and even shrinkish. How do you dare question him?
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2011, 10:47 AM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Well it is. That they have a low crime rate doesn't change how unjust it is to conceive of criminal justice through the light of criminal interests. Just like a forest without an abundance of hunters doesn't necessarily mean the absence of prey, or ease with which they are hunted.
I think in almost every context "open season on X" is taken to mean that X is routinely victimized.

I don't see how one can say it's open season on innocents in Norway and NOT on innocents in the US.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:09 AM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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I think in almost every context "open season on X" is taken to mean that X is routinely victimized.

I don't see how one can say it's open season on innocents in Norway and NOT on innocents in the US.
"Open season" is entirely illogical. It confuses retribution with deterrence. Or, if you are going to murder 70 people, you sure as hell don't think, "Well, I'll only get 20 years for it, so why not."

Which goes to the idea of how a mass-murderer could be considered sane, and the weird line that gets blurred between our colloquial intuition and the legal definition.

I would argue that if there isn't something genetically wrong with them, the social conditioning has wired them very badly. In either case, they aren't in their right mind.

Here's what I find odd: I see no reason to feel personal anger or resentment towards them. They did something wrong, yet like a wild animal out of its cage, I see no reason to feel bitterness towards them. If anything, I feel sympathy for them and their family (and obviously the families of the victims) - what a waste.

Yet many would see my response as somehow not holding them accountable, or responsible for their actions. But how can I? Who are "they", but a broken mind? Their body has committed the crime, a body with a mind that has stopped working the way we feel it should.

So lock it up, probably for life. But why kill it? Why torture it? Why not make it comfortable while it waits in its troubled shell?
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  #11  
Old 12-01-2011, 02:02 AM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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"Here's what I find odd: I see no reason to feel personal anger or resentment towards them. They did something wrong, yet like a wild animal out of its cage, I see no reason to feel bitterness towards them. If anything, I feel sympathy for them and their family (and obviously the families of the victims) - what a waste.
Their family sure. And I can possibly empathize with some horrific trauma that may have contributed (although in this case I am not aware of such).

But that's where we differ. I am much more interested in what people do than in their reasons. I don't much care about them. Someone behaves heroically, I am not rooting around to figure out why it doesn't really count because of some beneficial genetics or whatnot. Someone acts like a jerk (or in this case in a truly evil way) I am also less interested in the whys.

I know many people who have suffered horribly and had crippling and agonizing mental illnesses, who spent their entire lives NOT inflicting their miseries on other people.

Torture I am not at all for, but I have a lot of trouble generating a great deal of sympathy for someone who chooses to impose their internal states on others in such a gruesome way. I am not especially interested in ensuring their comfort, and I wouldn't lose sleep if they were executed.
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Old 12-01-2011, 10:59 AM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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Torture I am not at all for, but I have a lot of trouble generating a great deal of sympathy for someone who chooses to impose their internal states on others in such a gruesome way.
This is probably the crux. Just like a wild animal, I don't believe that they could have chosen differently. I don't think that people with terrible mental illnesses who don't kill people do not do so when they had the same feelings, saw the same logic, yet then chose not to kill. I simply think they were on different causal paths. They had different feelings and/or reasoning that led them to different conclusions and behavior.

And this may be the real root: even those for whom it might have occurred to them to act on evil impulses, such as pedophiles, etc., yet who do not, have some extra strength that allows them to choose differently. In this way, they have a different mental state, different feelings that provide them more control. This could be different biology, more learned empathy, cognitive training - any number of things that give us more self-control.

My sympathy for people who do terrible things is based on the proposition that we are all caught in the causality, the chains of our mental lives.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:34 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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This is probably the crux. Just like a wild animal, I don't believe that they could have chosen differently. I don't think that people with terrible mental illnesses who don't kill people do not do so when they had the same feelings, saw the same logic, yet then chose not to kill. I simply think they were on different causal paths. They had different feelings and/or reasoning that led them to different conclusions and behavior.
It's true that I used language suggesting a certain set of assumptions about causality. I think both free will and determinism require assumptions about information we can never know; thus, both you and Wonderment are making no stronger or weaker assumptions than (in this instance) myself or apple.

But having said that, as I tried to say in the broader thrust of my post, I don't much care. Whether mental illness is a necessary and sufficient condition, or only a necessary one for such horror, we are comfortable in general making moral judgments about behavior and applying penalties both criminal and social for it. Whether one is a cold-hearted financier or a corrupt police officer, or an unfaithful spouse, or a bigoted racist or a child molester, or a murderer, the competing models (free will vs. determinism) apply. I don't see the benefit of taking an especially horrific subset of the negative slice of human behavior and deeming it off limits for moral judgment and retribution.
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:51 PM
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My sympathy for people who do terrible things is based on the proposition that we are all caught in the causality, the chains of our mental lives.
Poor Adolf, he was caught in the causality, the chains of his mental mind. He didn't choose to murder so many millions, it just happened.
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Old 12-01-2011, 02:39 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Their family sure. And I can possibly empathize with some horrific trauma that may have contributed (although in this case I am not aware of such).

But that's where we differ. I am much more interested in what people do than in their reasons. I don't much care about them. Someone behaves heroically, I am not rooting around to figure out why it doesn't really count because of some beneficial genetics or whatnot. Someone acts like a jerk (or in this case in a truly evil way) I am also less interested in the whys.

I know many people who have suffered horribly and had crippling and agonizing mental illnesses, who spent their entire lives NOT inflicting their miseries on other people.

Torture I am not at all for, but I have a lot of trouble generating a great deal of sympathy for someone who chooses to impose their internal states on others in such a gruesome way. I am not especially interested in ensuring their comfort, and I wouldn't lose sleep if they were executed.
well put, i think i'm on the exact same page.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:28 AM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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It's true that I used language suggesting a certain set of assumptions about causality. I think both free will and determinism require assumptions about information we can never know; thus, both you and Wonderment are making no stronger or weaker assumptions than (in this instance) myself or apple.

But having said that, as I tried to say in the broader thrust of my post, I don't much care. Whether mental illness is a necessary and sufficient condition, or only a necessary one for such horror, we are comfortable in general making moral judgments about behavior and applying penalties both criminal and social for it. Whether one is a cold-hearted financier or a corrupt police officer, or an unfaithful spouse, or a bigoted racist or a child molester, or a murderer, the competing models (free will vs. determinism) apply. I don't see the benefit of taking an especially horrific subset of the negative slice of human behavior and deeming it off limits for moral judgment and retribution.
Oh, I'm completely in favor of making moral judgements. Morality is about human behavior, right? You wouldn't say an earthquake that killed thousands was immoral. But you would say Hitler was immoral. Yet if Hitler was caused, caused as much as an earthquake - a natural phenomenon, then how do we define his behavior as immoral.

I think the answer is in the definition of morality itself. It is a judgement of human behavior. We see human behavior as complex enough that we can mold and shape it through cultural progress, which operates both in terms of centuries as well as hours and minutes; larger social movements direct the flow of our knowledge and development, while minute, psychodynamic interactions direct the flow of our personal thoughts.

The behavior is still caused, but it is dynamic in ways in which earthquakes are not. Relatively few dynamic processes are at work in natural disasters. Shifting plates, the force of gravity, friction, etc. all build towards action. In terms of explanation, a geologist could map out the rough causal factors pretty easily, with limited feedback mechanisms driving the process. Yet human interaction is infinitely more complex, involving countless feedback mechanisms throughout the development of a brain in its environment. One is sympathetic with the notion that there is little if any causality operating at all. Certainly, in our own mind, it is almost impossible to examine the causality of thought. We are simply not capable of the meta-cognition that would be required.

Yet interestingly, neither could an earthquake understand its own causality - and yet this is obviously not an argument that it is therefore not caused. In fact, we have enormous amounts of data on hundreds of thousands of ways in which the human brain appears to be caused in at least limited ways. Looking at the ways in which the brain is functionally organized tells us part of the story. Another part is told by psychological and sociological research that exposes (quite predictably) numerous ways in which we think, specifically in the context of developmental, environmental parameters.

I'll be the first to admit that there is plenty that we do not know about the brain, and that there is no clear evidence that we are fully caused. But given the seriousness of the consequences of accepting one view over another (determinism vs. free will), in terms of deciding upon what to base personal and social decisions about the behavior of our fellow man, in my opinion the odds are clearly stacked in favor of inferring the human mind to be more caused than not, if not fully caused.

So, I see no contradiction in making rational determinations about acceptable behavior, or "morality", and simultaneously seeing man as caused. As long as I can reasonably infer theoretical causality, my own cognitive imitations into mine or my fellow man's specific causality do not prohibit me from both seeking to limit behavior I disapprove of, as well as promote behavior of which I approve. These are "reigns" on personhood many I'm sure would not relish to release, but I realize I have little choice, even as at times it seems a counter-intuitive or contradictory position.

And no, apple, I don't think Hitler "just" did anything. Just as I don't think the Tsunami in Japan "just" did anything. It was a terrible tragedy. But natural (and likely, unavoidable) nonetheless.
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  #17  
Old 12-03-2011, 01:29 AM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
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Oh, I'm completely in favor of making moral judgements. Morality is about human behavior, right?
I guess our difference is in terms of the strength with which one can/should make moral judgments rather than whether one should make them at all.
I think much of the same logic on both sides applies, whether you are arguing for no judgment (vs. me making a judgment) or you are arguing for a less strong* judgment than I am

In this instance, I am comfortable making a strong enough moral judgment to prefer the death penalty and other lesser discomforts. You aren't. This shifts the argument a bit, but I don't think it alters it fundamentally.


*By "strong judgment" I mean a judgment that has an affective component and/or a drive toward retribution or punishment, and not simply prevention of further bad behavior.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:01 AM
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I guess our difference is in terms of the strength with which one can/should make moral judgments rather than whether one should make them at all.
I think much of the same logic on both sides applies, whether you are arguing for no judgment (vs. me making a judgment) or you are arguing for a less strong* judgment than I am

In this instance, I am comfortable making a strong enough moral judgment to prefer the death penalty and other lesser discomforts. You aren't. This shifts the argument a bit, but I don't think it alters it fundamentally.


*By "strong judgment" I mean a judgment that has an affective component and/or a drive toward retribution or punishment, and not simply prevention of further bad behavior.
The way I conceptualize it is that there are two sides to this equation. On the one hand you would decide what to do with a perpetrator. We recently had an extensive discussion about this, and I continue to think that the emphasis is to remove the person from society so that he/she can't reoffend, and to establish some form of "punishment" that acts as a deterrent for others (and for the same person in the future). Anything else, in the sense of revenge or retribution, although understandable from an emotional point of view for some, shouldn't, IMO, enter the equation.

But then, there's the other side. I'm referring to the those who impart "justice". When the side of justice, isn't just acting for practical reasons, to protect society, to make it safer, but it becomes an instrument of revenge, driven by emotions, which contain violent impulses of retaliation, isn't that also morally questionable? If we reject "killing" others (as in crime), shouldn't we also reject killing others as punishment? I understand that there are obvious differences. Let's say the perpetrator of a murder, may have killed an innocent person. The murderer himself isn't an innocent person. So from some perspective there's some room for justification under those terms. But really? Do we have a right to take someone else's life? I understand immediate self defense, but planned death penalty is a different story.

There are all kinds of possible situations that one could think of. I'm not really addressing the judicial process of finding someone guilty. But that last step of sentencing, when it comes to death penalty or other forms of cruel punishment, makes me wonder how that affects what kind of moral society we are.

Again, this topic was discussed recently. I don't think there's a straight forward answer, and probably people simply stay divided in two camps.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:42 AM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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But then, there's the other side. I'm referring to the those who impart "justice". When the side of justice, isn't just acting for practical reasons, to protect society, to make it safer, but it becomes an instrument of revenge, driven by emotions, which contain violent impulses of retaliation, isn't that also morally questionable?
I think there may also be another argument for retribution in which there isn't an emotional satiation, but rather a sort of "social evening". I understand it to be a sense that the wrong committed needs to be corrected for through punishment, at the most extreme being a death sentence. It seems pretty abstract and metaphysical. I'm also skeptical that it isn't an attempt to rationalize what is merely the emotional retributive impulse.
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Old 12-03-2011, 03:31 PM
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But then, there's the other side. I'm referring to the those who impart "justice". When the side of justice, isn't just acting for practical reasons, to protect society, to make it safer, but it becomes an instrument of revenge, driven by emotions, which contain violent impulses of retaliation, isn't that also morally questionable?
Possibly, from my perspective. Less so from yours. If the mass murder is determined, so is the execution of the mass murderer.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:09 PM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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Possibly, from my perspective. Less so from yours. If the mass murder is determined, so is the execution of the mass murderer.
Ah - but the argument of fatalism doesn't follow from determinism!
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:04 AM
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Possibly, from my perspective. Less so from yours. If the mass murder is determined, so is the execution of the mass murderer.
Well, not exactly. At some point we had reached the conclusion that I am a compatibilist.
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Old 12-04-2011, 08:05 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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I think there may also be another argument for retribution in which there isn't an emotional satiation, but rather a sort of "social evening". I understand it to be a sense that the wrong committed needs to be corrected for through punishment, at the most extreme being a death sentence. It seems pretty abstract and metaphysical. I'm also skeptical that it isn't an attempt to rationalize what is merely the emotional retributive impulse.
Yeah, this was my argument. I don't believe it's an attempt to rationalize an emotional impulse -- you can believe me or not, but I feel that this is the more just approach completely hypothetically and without a particular crime in mind or emotional reaction. I do acknowledge that in practice it's hard to separate out arguments about what is just in this sense and other bases for wanting to punish a perpetrator (which is why our ideas about this should be set, as they are, without reference to the individuals, but to the type of crime which could be committed). However, I don't actually think there's any more risk than there is in connection with the discussion of deterrence.

I don't think there's usually (outside of the outliers) all that much difference in desired punishment and to the extent there is it almost always relates to faith in the possibility of rehabilitation, not societal justice vs. deterrence/safety only as the basis for the punishment. This, to me, suggests that there's more of a difference in how we are understanding or explaining our reasons, not that one side is focusing on vastly different motives and just not admitting it.

I do think there's a difference if (as mentioned above) one sees rehabilitation/cure as a real possibility even after the types of heinous violent crimes which are being discussed, if one has a strong belief in determinism or no choice that allows you to feel that the perpetrator is not to be blamed in the same way (I'm largely with miceelf on that), or if one is willing to openly admit anger/revenge as a motive AND doesn't share the ideas about limits on what it is appropriate for the state to do to punish.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:04 AM
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Yeah, this was my argument. I don't believe it's an attempt to rationalize an emotional impulse -- you can believe me or not, but I feel that this is the more just approach completely hypothetically and without a particular crime in mind or emotional reaction. I do acknowledge that in practice it's hard to separate out arguments about what is just in this sense and other bases for wanting to punish a perpetrator (which is why our ideas about this should be set, as they are, without reference to the individuals, but to the type of crime which could be committed). However, I don't actually think there's any more risk than there is in connection with the discussion of deterrence.
We had visited the topic before. At least partly, when I wrote my comment to which eeeeeeeli responded, I didn't express clearly the way I conceptualize the link between what I identify as the root retributive impulse (which is emotional in nature, most likely a self defense reflex) and the derived more abstract concept of justice. I don't think that people necessarily have to experience the retributive impulse in order to accept the derived sense of justice. Most likely, that link, which I see as historical and phylogenetic, is blurred or lost for many and the only aspect that remains is the abstract construct of justice.

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I don't think there's usually (outside of the outliers) all that much difference in desired punishment and to the extent there is it almost always relates to faith in the possibility of rehabilitation, not societal justice vs. deterrence/safety only as the basis for the punishment. This, to me, suggests that there's more of a difference in how we are understanding or explaining our reasons, not that one side is focusing on vastly different motives and just not admitting it.
I'm not sure what you're getting at, but if I understand the above well, I may be one of the outliers. I see meaning in deterrence/safety even in the absence of the possibility of rehabilitation.

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I do think there's a difference if (as mentioned above) one sees rehabilitation/cure as a real possibility even after the types of heinous violent crimes which are being discussed, if one has a strong belief in determinism or no choice that allows you to feel that the perpetrator is not to be blamed in the same way (I'm largely with miceelf on that),...
Although many people that have committed crimes may be rehabilitated, I also believe that there are some who are beyond our ability to rehabilitate. Perhaps their flaws/problems are too deep, too engrained to be removed or changed with the tools we have available. The determinism aspect, doesn't make much of a difference from a practical point of view, but, again it may tone down the emotional response in the same way that we respond to some who commits a crime under conditions of insanity. We recognize that there is flaw, an illness operating which takes away responsibility (and with it our response to it).


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... or if one is willing to openly admit anger/revenge as a motive AND doesn't share the ideas about limits on what it is appropriate for the state to do to punish.
Yes, I guess that's the case.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:43 AM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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We had visited the topic before.
Yes -- my understanding was that we disagreed, mainly around the issue eli was referring to. My response was simply intended to address eli's characterization of the view he was referring to, as it's mine. I'm not interested in rearguing this, just making sure my view is stated correctly.

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I'm not sure what you're getting at
Seems to me that most people, however they explain it, end up with generally agreed-upon views as to the correct punishment for various crimes or at least in how the punishments should compare to punishments for other crimes. The outliers are those who end up with quite different proposed punishments for certain crimes, whether more lenient or more harsh. Those who are outliers in favor of less serious punishments tend to base the argument on the possibility of rehabilitation. Without differences in their understanding of how much rehabilitation is possible, I think people using deterrance/safety don't really get to very different ideas about what punishment is appropriate than I would, say. (I don't dismiss the possibility of rehabilitation, although it depends on the crime. I'm trying to look at the other factors holding views on rehabilitation constant.)

IMO, ideas about the punishment fitting the crime that I'd consider part of my abstract justice/addressing the wrong done rationale often get addressed without it being explicitly stated in the ideas about what is needed to deter crime. I'm sure for some that's not true, of course. But part of the abstract justice concept is that it's important for society to identify and treat certain acts (murder, rape, the use of violence against others, etc.) as serious crimes. It's easy to incorporate that in an idea of deterrance (if we don't, people will be more likely to commit the crimes, treat them lightly), if one dislikes the abstract justice notion. But I don't see why I should dislike it -- in fact, it seems to me important. I don't care if punishment deters thievery much more than it does murder. Murder is still a more serious wrong than thievery and needs to be punished accordingly.

Last edited by stephanie; 12-04-2011 at 11:47 AM..
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  #26  
Old 12-04-2011, 12:12 PM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
Although many people that have committed crimes may be rehabilitated, I also believe that there are some who are beyond our ability to rehabilitate. Perhaps their flaws/problems are too deep, too engrained to be removed or changed with the tools we have available.
Pedophilia I think is a perfect example of this. As far as we know, it can't be cured; it seems to be a sexual preference (for prepubescent children) much like hetero or homosexuality. While different therapies can somewhat limit the behavior, the impulse will always be there.

In discussions of determinism, both sides should be able to agree that there are at least limitations on freedom; people will always have different capacities for behavior, whether genetic or learned. Pedophilia seems likely to have a genetic root. It therefore makes sense to at least have some compassion for people who have been born into a body that, due to a design flaw, makes them want to do bad things to children.

In embracing a determinist outlook, I think it is reasonable to suppose that were society at large to move in that direction, much of the stigma surrounding pedophilia would fade, and pedophiles would be more able to "come out", as it were, and volunteer for treatment. There would still be harsh penalties for offenses, as a deterrent, but otherwise people would be considered mentally ill and "prone to violence".

I think of Stephanie's acceptance of social retribution. The calculation seems to be made under the assumption that the individual made a choice. Would retribution still apply if the individual had no choice. A better example might be if someone had a brain tumor that destroyed his sense of empathy, turning him from an otherwise kind person into a murderer?

In other words, if the notion of choice were removed, would the desire for retribution still exist? Is there a point where retribution no longer seems appropriate? Looking at violent attacks by animals, many feel that retribution is necessary, even if the animal - a bear say, or puma - was merely behaving naturally, and could be set free into the wild. This notion seems to stretch the concept.

But I think it might argue against the concept of social retribution. For even assuming that to the degree that no personal impulse towards retribution exists in such cases, the argument could still hold that a wrong has been done against society, and must be "paid for". Of course, the debtor is a wild animal. When a tree crushes a family in their home, a wrong has also been done against society. Yet seeking retribution on the tree would be absurd.

Or would it? How much of a difference is there really between individual bloodlust and the concept of social retribution? The former seems highly biased, and therefor distasteful, but how much is the latter, seemingly more calm and rationally considered, not merely a different version of that same impulse? Human nature has been shown over and over to suffer from very peculiar and emotionally driven impulses, even in the total abstract.

Experimental studies have found all kinds of evidence for the ways in which our decisions are guided by impulses we are not even aware of. For instance, the study in which people refused to put on a jacket that was told was once worn by Hitler. Or our tendency in the trolley car experiment to greatly favor those close to us as opposed to those further away. I mention these not to necessarily illustrate that these are wrong feelings, or that we should feel them, but that they can lead us to illogical premises and bad policy outcomes.

What becomes difficult is in determining just how much this bias is at work in our thinking - especially concerning bigger philosophical issues in which it isn't clear where our thinking - our "preference" - is really coming from; in this way, politics and philosophy can be like a matter of taste, where we just "know it when we see it". I can't say for certain that the concept of social retribution is based upon a biased sense of justice - that it is more a matter of personal taste than reason - but I can see how it might be.
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  #27  
Old 12-04-2011, 12:45 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli View Post
Pedophilia I think is a perfect example of this. As far as we know, it can't be cured; it seems to be a sexual preference (for prepubescent children) much like hetero or homosexuality. While different therapies can somewhat limit the behavior, the impulse will always be there.
Of course, the argument is that there is a difference between acknowledging someone's preference and accepting the behaviors that may follow. An individual, knowing that they would be hurting a child in physical or psychological ways could refrain from acting on their preferences.

Quote:
In discussions of determinism, both sides should be able to agree that there are at least limitations on freedom; people will always have different capacities for behavior, whether genetic or learned. Pedophilia seems likely to have a genetic root. It therefore makes sense to at least have some compassion for people who have been born into a body that, due to a design flaw, makes them want to do bad things to children.

In embracing a determinist outlook, I think it is reasonable to suppose that were society at large to move in that direction, much of the stigma surrounding pedophilia would fade, and pedophiles would be more able to "come out", as it were, and volunteer for treatment. There would still be harsh penalties for offenses, as a deterrent, but otherwise people would be considered mentally ill and "prone to violence".
I guess some criminal acts are easier to process by the rest of society than others. I do get the general idea you're expressing though.

Quote:
I think of Stephanie's acceptance of social retribution. The calculation seems to be made under the assumption that the individual made a choice. Would retribution still apply if the individual had no choice. A better example might be if someone had a brain tumor that destroyed his sense of empathy, turning him from an otherwise kind person into a murderer?

In other words, if the notion of choice were removed, would the desire for retribution still exist? Is there a point where retribution no longer seems appropriate? Looking at violent attacks by animals, many feel that retribution is necessary, even if the animal - a bear say, or puma - was merely behaving naturally, and could be set free into the wild. This notion seems to stretch the concept.

But I think it might argue against the concept of social retribution. For even assuming that to the degree that no personal impulse towards retribution exists in such cases, the argument could still hold that a wrong has been done against society, and must be "paid for". Of course, the debtor is a wild animal. When a tree crushes a family in their home, a wrong has also been done against society. Yet seeking retribution on the tree would be absurd.

Or would it? How much of a difference is there really between individual bloodlust and the concept of social retribution? The former seems highly biased, and therefor distasteful, but how much is the latter, seemingly more calm and rationally considered, not merely a different version of that same impulse? Human nature has been shown over and over to suffer from very peculiar and emotionally driven impulses, even in the total abstract.
Yes, those are the examples I always think of. They are good example to contrast our attitudes depending on attribution of agency.

When it comes to people, we tend to think of them as holding the ability of free will, able to control their behavior and to choose between different courses of action. We don't seem them as animals reacting in automatic ways. We're possibly both right and wrong, since there is some ability to control but the same isn't unlimited and it is itself determined by other factors.

Quote:
Experimental studies have found all kinds of evidence for the ways in which our decisions are guided by impulses we are not even aware of. For instance, the study in which people refused to put on a jacket that was told was once worn by Hitler. Or our tendency in the trolley car experiment to greatly favor those close to us as opposed to those further away. I mention these not to necessarily illustrate that these are wrong feelings, or that we should feel them, but that they can lead us to illogical premises and bad policy outcomes.

What becomes difficult is in determining just how much this bias is at work in our thinking - especially concerning bigger philosophical issues in which it isn't clear where our thinking - our "preference" - is really coming from; in this way, politics and philosophy can be like a matter of taste, where we just "know it when we see it". I can't say for certain that the concept of social retribution is based upon a biased sense of justice - that it is more a matter of personal taste than reason - but I can see how it might be.
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  #28  
Old 12-04-2011, 12:52 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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Yes -- my understanding was that we disagreed, mainly around the issue eli was referring to. My response was simply intended to address eli's characterization of the view he was referring to, as it's mine. I'm not interested in rearguing this, just making sure my view is stated correctly.



Seems to me that most people, however they explain it, end up with generally agreed-upon views as to the correct punishment for various crimes or at least in how the punishments should compare to punishments for other crimes. The outliers are those who end up with quite different proposed punishments for certain crimes, whether more lenient or more harsh. Those who are outliers in favor of less serious punishments tend to base the argument on the possibility of rehabilitation. Without differences in their understanding of how much rehabilitation is possible, I think people using deterrance/safety don't really get to very different ideas about what punishment is appropriate than I would, say. (I don't dismiss the possibility of rehabilitation, although it depends on the crime. I'm trying to look at the other factors holding views on rehabilitation constant.)

IMO, ideas about the punishment fitting the crime that I'd consider part of my abstract justice/addressing the wrong done rationale often get addressed without it being explicitly stated in the ideas about what is needed to deter crime. I'm sure for some that's not true, of course. But part of the abstract justice concept is that it's important for society to identify and treat certain acts (murder, rape, the use of violence against others, etc.) as serious crimes. It's easy to incorporate that in an idea of deterrance (if we don't, people will be more likely to commit the crimes, treat them lightly), if one dislikes the abstract justice notion. But I don't see why I should dislike it -- in fact, it seems to me important. I don't care if punishment deters thievery much more than it does murder. Murder is still a more serious wrong than thievery and needs to be punished accordingly.
Well, yes, but I had the impression that we hadn't been able to come up with any situation when both safety and deterrence factors were absent, so that we could evaluate whether there was a remainder that could be attributed to the pure sense of justice. Even if we could use studies to demonstrate that punishment doesn't in practice deter a certain kind of crime, we are likely to be using the false premise that it would.

A simple example would be a situation of parents and their children. Sometimes children misbehave in order to get attention. Parents, unknowingly, continue to respond by punishing, even when they're reinforcing the behavior. But if you make the parents aware of how this works they may be able to stop the punishment. In the back of their minds, punishment was the only method they knew of to deter misbehavior. They had to reason their way out of it. They don't continue punishing in spite of knowing better, just out of a sense of "justice".

PS: I know we may not want to revisit this discussion. Sometimes one has to accept those dead ends.
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  #29  
Old 12-04-2011, 01:26 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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Well, yes, but I had the impression that we hadn't been able to come up with any situation when both safety and deterrence factors were absent, so that we could evaluate whether there was a remainder that could be attributed to the pure sense of justice. Even if we could use studies to demonstrate that punishment doesn't in practice deter a certain kind of crime, we are likely to be using the false premise that it would.
Right. This is related to my impression that people get to the same place using the "deterrance + safety" arguments that I do by acknowledging that abstract justice or "the punishment should fit the crime" is part of it.

I understand that you don't see it that way.

(And as I said during the prior argument, I'm adding a factor, not saying that I'm not interested in deterrence or pragmatic concerns. I do strongly reject the notion that there's something wrong with considering abstract justice in the way I'm talking about.)
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  #30  
Old 12-04-2011, 01:38 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: The Blessings of Progressivism

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I think of Stephanie's acceptance of social retribution. The calculation seems to be made under the assumption that the individual made a choice. Would retribution still apply if the individual had no choice.
Remember that under our legal system there are both "mens rea" requirements and insanity defenses. How insanity is defined varies somewhat (traditionally that's the M'Naghten rule, it was made somewhat more strict over the '70s and then especially post the Reagan shooting and Hinckley verdict in many states). But basically there is a problem with holding someone criminally responsible if they had no voalition. We don't take this to mean that people who have certain kinds of dimished capacity (addicts, pedophiles, people with bad upbringings, generally) aren't responsible, but this has always been one reason that I see a problem with your kind of strict determinism and how our legal system works. There is an assumption, an important one, that we have some degree of choice.*

Even if we don't, of course, structuring everything as if we do seems to be an important part of encouraging the kinds of choices we want. Deterrence, obviously, but also the social definition aspect of the abstract justice argument. Even if we cannot demonstrate that punishing pedophiles harshly deters them (and if it's truly a compulsion that is uncontrollable, it would not, although I don't buy that, at least not completely), it would still be important to our society that we identify their acting on their impulses as something seriously wrong, a terrible crime, a serious violation of the rights of and use of violence against another person. Just as it's important to identify rape generally as a serious crime. If we don't, it suggests that we don't take the act seriously, and that is a failure of our duty to those who are raped.

*It's kind of ironic, then, that this discussion is occurring in connection with a potential insanity ruling. I don't at all disagree that some defendants aren't legally responsible due to insanity, and think the argument about what constitutes insanity is a separate one. If you say everything is determined, however, that makes the special legal category of insanity irrelevant.

Last edited by stephanie; 12-04-2011 at 01:42 PM..
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