Sunday, October 11, 2009

Judge, jury, and executioner


“Why, though, if such things are within the realm of morality (and may even bear a moral mandate)?”

i) Since I don’t equate sadism with punishment, you’re building on a false premise.

ii) Moreover, I haven’t taken a position on what type of punishment is appropriate for the damned. That’s not my call.

I don’t share Reppert’s pretensions to omniscience regarding the proper or improper type of punishment in any given case.

iii) Furthermore, I have more intuitive confidence regarding what is unjust than what is just. There are cases in which I’m simply at a loss to know what punishment fits the crime.

I have a clearer sense of what punishment is too light in heinous cases than of what punishment is too harsh in heinous cases. I find it easier to say if the bar is set too low than if the bar is set to high.

“My point is that in life, we refrain from inflicting certain kinds of suffering (even upon the most heinous of criminals) as being in themselves intrinsically evil.”

That depends in part on who carries out the punishment. Suppose a pedophile kidnaps a 5-year-old girl, sodomizes her, then buries her alive.

Suppose her dad tracks him down and tortures him to death. Frankly, I’m in no position to judge the actions of the father. That didn’t happen to my daughter. If I were a juror, I’d vote to acquit the dad.

I don’t feel morally competent to evaluate his actions one way or the other. That’s something I’d leave to God.

If, on the other hand, I were the executioner, then I wouldn’t feel justified in doing what he did. I’m not the affected party.

It might well be right for the father, as an injured party, to do something, which would be wrong of me to do since I wasn’t the affected party.

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