Saturday, January 21, 2023

Punishment and Justice

Yesterday, I had a short discussion with someone who considers punishment an essential part of justice.

I don't. I consider it revenge.

I understand the desire to punish someone who has violated you-- I've felt it myself many times. But, I now think that feeling goes beyond what I have a right to do or demand. If I punished someone (or had the state do it on my behalf) I would feel I had created a debt.

To me, justice refers to the attempt to restore a victim to their pre-violation condition, or as close as possible. This could include restitution. I also realize some things are beyond restitution, but in those cases, punishment also falls short. It seems to me that punishment is desired because "you hurt me so I want to make sure you, hurt, too". This seems inherently vengeful. Am I wrong? I could well be wrong.

If you think punishment is a required part of justice, please explain to me in the comments why you believe it is and how they are related. I might not be convinced, but I'd like to see the other side from rational perspectives.

I couldn't do this without your support.