Saturday, November 28, 2009

Non-Retributive Justice

Tom Clarke has a post up on causation and culpability. He laments the common reluctance, on grounds that people could no longer be held accountable for their actions, in allowing that free will does not exist.

I'm always amazed at how difficult it is for many people to grasp the concept of non-retributive justice. We do this everyday with our children (or so we try!). Of course this is because we know full well - it is plainly obvious - that they are not the cause of their actions.

Imagine how tiresome it would be to have to summon for children the same sort of anger and vengefulness that we so easily dish out upon adults.

Our greatest human achievement, the Golden Rule, is predicated upon our ability to create a model of conscious being in others. It is the source of our greatest courage, our greatest humility, and our greatest compassion. By looking at our own lives, and realizing that we could only ever have made the choice that we indeed made - even if in the future we choose differently, we can thus realize in others the same model. We are them and they are us.

Like children, we are all learning to be human. If at times this means we must be rewarded handsome salaries, then so be it. If at other times it means we must be locked away in prison, then so be it. But neither will be because we have deserved anything at all. It will be so that we may learn, and others may learn by us, and nothing more.

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