Monday, February 14, 2011

Beyond Intellectualism (Crime and Punishment Edition)

Beyond Intellectualism:

Here evolutionary psychology proved complementary to Skinner's view. It explained how natural selection had ingrained in us the intuition that wrongdoers deserve punishment, that their suffering somehow rights the moral scales. And once you've reduced a philosophical intuition to a mere instinct, a product of our species' natural history, its rightness, in my view, comes into question. So I've argued that punishment isn't a moral good in itself and is warranted only to the extent that it either keeps criminals off the street or deters would-be criminals. (Here, as elsewhere, my arguments haven't carried the day; the intrinsic goodness of retribution remains part of judicial doctrine.)
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