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Ethics of Revenge

Discussion in 'Ethics and Morals' started by The Sum of Awe, May 4, 2014.

  1. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    Do you believe it is just to punish someone for something they once did, even if future safety is guaranteed and blatantly obvious?

    Or do you believe punishment should be used only to assure further safety?

    For each example, state what you'd do.

    Example One: If someone were to break into your house and rob something, but were later on strict watch by authorities so this will for sure not happen again, and you were given an option of whether or not they would be contained in a prison - would you want them to be contained or would you be fine as long as you knew you and everyone else were safe from this person?

    Example Two: A bit more personal. If someone were to murder your closest loved ones, but (somehow*) it was guaranteed that this person would never do anything of the sort again to anybody, and you had the same option as you did in Example One, would you want them contained or would you be fine knowing you and everyone else was safe from this person?

    (somehow*) = A given, further detail is not required, a hypothetical variable that cannot go wrong and so it's not important how, it just is for sure.


    I'm asking this because I, personally, would say I'm fine for number one, but for number two I'd want this person contained simply because they severely damaged my personal life.
     
  2. CynthiaCypher

    CynthiaCypher Well-Known Member

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    For your first question I would have to say, no.
     
  3. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    I listened to an excellent "Radio Lab" program this morning addressing just this topic. It is an NPR show, easily available on the net.

    It is a complicated subject, forgiveness.

    Personally, I think revenge is just as evil as any other immoral behavior. You can't justify doing something immoral by referring back to another immoral event.

    The best revenge is living well.

    Tom
     
  4. ametist

    ametist Active Member

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    If someone is really guilty assuring that he/she wont do it again is usually turns out to become a punishment for them and it doesnt even mean revenge for most cases.

    On the other hand, if somebody kills me, I want them dead with me. Thats for sure. :)
    Though this might be true for killing, I dont want an equal crime to be performed for most other things that can be done. I cant steal from someone who has stolen from me or I have nothing to do with his property but I want his crime to be announced and be known by public, I cant deliberately lie or cheat someone who did the same thing to me or do not want these things to be done to him/her but I want his such qualities as a liar and a cheater be known by the the puclic. etc.
     
  5. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    I would be fine with him being merely watched by authorities.
    Setting aside the matter of whether this would be viable in a real life situation, of course.

    I would want to see them being contained, to say the least.

    Then we are pretty much on the same boat.
    I take no issue on revenge, by itself.
     
  6. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    Ethically, i look at it with degrees rather than black and white.

    Forgiving and understanding is the most difficult, most beneficial, and most ethical thing to do in all cases. In some cases it's incredibly harder than others, but ultimately, i think that's the best rout for one's self and for society.

    If someone fails to forgive, i can still though view it with understanding to certain extents, including if some forms of vengeance are sought. If someone kills a family, and the survivor of that family wishes that person to be dead or even outright kills them, i would view that as understandable, but also as not the beneficial thing to do, unless it happens to also put a stop to future crime that would not have been contained otherwise, in which case the result of that lack of forgiveness was good even though the emotion itself is not necessarily beneficial. If the emotion itself is partially fueled by a will to put a stop to such future crime or harm, then it becomes even more understandable in my eyes.

    If someone fails to forgive, but fails to exercise proportion in their emotions and actions, like engaging in forms of vengeance where others are harmed besides the person who caused the harm to begin with, then that goes well beyond what i'd consider understandable, and i'd consider such actions quite unethical, in most cases just as bad as the harm it was in response to begin with.

    Legally, all that is much more complicated, so i think focusing on reducing harm and ensuring safety makes the most sense, generally.

    Personally, if someone hurts me in whichever way but i have a guarantee that they won't do it again to me or to anybody else, then i'd not wish them to be punished (or at least i hope i have the character for that in all cases).
     
  7. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Are there non-specific moral propositions though?
    On pratice, they don't seem to exist.

    Even murder ( unlawful killing ) can be morally permisible if you were to live in a place where self-defense resulting in the death of the assaulter was unlawful.
     
  8. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    There are more ways to harm besides actually robbing or killing.

    But you state a situation of everyone being actually being safe from those people, so I guess I will take that at face value and say that ethically I must accept both.
     
  9. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    I am interested in your reasoning.

    Let's start with one question: What is the best for society?
     
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  10. factseeker88

    factseeker88 factseeker88

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    If someone were to murder your closest loved ones, would you want them contained or would you be fine knowing you and everyone else was safe from this person? >>

    Depends on whether the one seeking revenge was in his right mind, if not, his mania could result in drastic measures, even suicide bombing, as we have been aware of since 9/11

    “[FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is WHAT WE DO.” John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) [/FONT]
     
  11. CynthiaCypher

    CynthiaCypher Well-Known Member

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    My grandfather was a murder victim and my grandmother wants more than anything than for his murderers to be rehabilitated. I have another opinion that does not exactly measure up with my grandmothers.
     
  12. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    For society, i think approaching criminals with a mentality of understanding is more effective than approaching them with a mentality of punishment or vengeance (that's not to say those are by necessity mutually exclusive), as the first is basically a lot less emotionally loaded.

    With a less emotionally loaded mentality, and with an approach more open to looking for problems and reasons to understand for why harm occurred in the first place, i think the possibility and capability of addressing such harm increases.
     
  13. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Why not approach the issue with both mentalities then?
     
  14. Badran

    Badran Veteran Member
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    In some cases i think that's inescapable, and possible. But generally, one of them makes the other difficult, so unless there's the reason to maintain both (such as when dealing with a threat that can't be contained and needs to be eliminated), i think it's more helpful to be oriented towards understanding.
     
  15. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Don't you think that a mentality of understanding, by itself, fails to address the short-term aspirations of the individuals within a society?
     
  16. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    I don't see much use for revenge in and of itself. It's not the same as taking action to prevent further abuse.
     
  17. Drolefille

    Drolefille PolyPanGeekGirl

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    Treating criminals like people who can change rather than people who are fundamentally broken/flawed/unfixable/evil is statistically more likely to rehabilitate them. Even punishment is just something external imposed on them, if they don't internally change then they'll return to old behaviors as soon as punishment is lightened or removed.

    My job uses both, we have sanctions because part of the teaching aspect is that actions continue to have consequences, but the biggest sanctions - being placed on electronic detention (an ankle bracelet that permits restricted movement only), or being violated and returned to prison - are only done by the parole agents. My coworkers and I primarily provide the praise, counseling, education, and cognitive behavioral treatment.

    But punishment alone doesn't change anything, if it did, we would never have repeat offenders.

    For the OP, I'm fine with both. In fact, most murderers will never re-offend as it stands, some due to the nature of their case - a crime of passion, a relationship related case, etc. - some because after a long period of time in prison they've aged out of whatever trouble they were involved in. (By long period I mean about 10 years for Murder 2, or 20-25 for Murder 1).
     
  18. Alex_G

    Alex_G Enlightner of the Senses

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    Well as far as i can see there are 4 primary reasons for the punishment of crimes:

    1. As a way of safeguarding from ongoing crime by incapacitating/isolating them
    2. As a deterrent to others via actualised threats of punishment
    3. As a means of rehabilitation (not quite 'punishment' per say)
    4. And as a simple retribution, giving them what they deserve.

    If one thinks pragmatically the first 3 make sense in terms of governance. They have justifiable reasons relating to keeping an ordered, safe and fair society.

    The fourth seems more related to moral dessert, and what we think they deserve to endure for whatever particular crime they commit. This has far less practical justification like the others, and if we consider the possibility of no free will, it becomes difficult to defend.

    Revenge is hard wired in us to a degree, and could be considered a form of personal justice, if reactionary. This however is totally different from any social justice, or anything that should be in policy.

    Is revenge good or justified? Well life is complicated. I would never think a state should blanket endorse it, but that is not the same as saying its never warranted or justified for a person.

    I would be happy for justice to occur and the practical aspects of punishment be enforced. Of course the realities in life are less clear cut, and i can see why people end up feeling the need to go vigilante when systems of justice fail them.

    Even saying that i would still get the surge of rage and want to retaliate that&#8217;s hard wired in me. Luckily time can heal this sort of reactionary fervour.

    In situations of extreme harm or cruelty to those i love, in the moment i could see myself taking the appropriate revenge. Sometimes being a pacified 'good citizen' just isn't honest or even human.
     
    #18 Alex_G, May 4, 2014
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
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  19. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Not really. Dogs are often put down if they seriously attack people. And most people wouldn't say that dogs have free will.
     
  20. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    I think you may have misunderstood - the attacker is not the avenger.
     
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