Skip to comments.Guilty People Aren't Guilty, Innocent People Are
Posted on 04/06/2011 7:35:09 AM PDT by mattstat
The man who took the knife and slit the throat of the woman whose money and body he wanted could not help himself. But the judge who sentenced that man to jail for life sure knew what he was doing.
The judge had freedom, he could make a choice. He should have considered that the murderer had none. The murders brain made the murderer do what the murderer did (the personal pronoun is out of place here). The judges brain was under no constraints. The judge could have let the murder go.
And, no, its not that mysterious entity Society which caused the man to wield his knife. That theory is passé! It is so 1970. This is a new century and were well into it. Times is modern! We should embrace new and colorful, computer-generated theories of exculpability.
Currently, our patterns of punishment are founded on the concepts of personal volition and the attendant culpability. But a shift in our understanding of individual differences suggests a move toward prison sentences tailored to the risk of recidivism rather than the desire for revenge.
This conclusion does not follow from its premises, even assuming they are all true. If we accept that criminals1 (defined as those people who commit a well-defined act) could not help themselves, then locking these people away makes no sense. It is like punishing a snail for leaving a trail of slime.
It frightens me to think that some believe we can predict which criminal will become a recidivist and which not. But assuming we can, then you are introducing the entirely new legal principle that a man should be locked up because some statistical model predicts he will commit a future crime. And why just lock up those who have previously committed crimes? We could apply the same models to everybody and put away any who we predict would commit undesirable acts.
If you assume a criminal could help himself, at least partially, but believe he will not become a recidivist (perhaps he slaughtered his hated father), Eagleman (apparently) argues letting this man go free else his punishment would only be for revenge.
And here we have it. The principle no truly Enlightened person would accept. Instead of revenge, It is time to let go of our intuitions about how people should behave and pay attention to how they do behave to run our legal system as rigorously as a science experiment.
What Eagleman, who evidently has no acquaintance with John Locke, has not considered that it was the evolution from personal and family vendettas and blood feuds, to uninterested judges and punishment by the state which gave us civil society. Prison is not revenge, it is the rule of law. It is justice.
Thought crimes, what a concept. How objective.
This is weirdly badly written and includes a long quote with no attribution. Who said what?
If they are unable to control themselves, we should not put the rest of us in danger.
Yes, I screwed up while pasting this in. My fault entirely.
The man discussed is Eagleman, whose website is here:
Agreed, it was hard to tell what side the author was on. If the Author did not agree with the convoluted nonsense being discusses, he was being so sarcastic for so long it was hard to tell. Kinda like listening to Matt Drudge
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Actually, it was just that third paragraph that was sarcastic. The first two follow from Eagleman’s argument. There is certainly no defense of Eagleman here.
He seems to be saying that no one is responsible for their behavior so society is being “mean” when it captures and punishes criminals. Another clear thinking academic.
People do that?
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