Jump to content
meanmedianmode

criminal justice: retributive or rehabilitative?

Recommended Posts

This is an age old argument, which could be good for brushing the dust off this forum, but it's also a debate with new significance and nuance in light of scientific advances including in neurology.

There are two principal frameworks for the goals of incarceration and other unsavory rights deprivations of the criminal justice system: 1) retribution, or punishing people who do bad things, and 2) rehabilitation, or getting the people who did bad things to do better things. The perspective one selects has dramatic implications on disputes including capital punishment, disenfranchisement, prison conditions, and criminal sentencing.
I've recently heard two different sources, PBS 2-part broadcast Brains on Trial as well as the (WNYC) Radiolab episode Blame, addressing possible implications of neurology and other scientific advances on criminal justice. Of particular relevance to this debate, the problem of neurological determinism comes up - do people have free will to decide what they do, justifying "fault", or are people the interaction of sub-sentient biochemistry and bioelectricity with limited agency? In some senses, this discussion itself traces back to Descartes' dualism hypothesis, as well as older theological disputes. 

 

What say you? Should the criminal justice system be mean to people so that they get punished, or should it be helpful to people so that they become useful?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With regards to the determinism debate, I'm of the opinion that it doesn't really matter.  Read some Korsgaard or Searle.  Korsgaard talks a ton about responsibility and free will within determinism, and her arguments are incredibly convincing.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With regards to the determinism debate, I'm of the opinion that it doesn't really matter.  Read some Korsgaard or Searle.  Korsgaard talks a ton about responsibility and free will within determinism, and her arguments are incredibly convincing.  

Would you be so kind, please, as to restate/summarize some of these arguments so we can discuss it right now?

 

I skimmed some of this http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/philosophers/korsgaard/. My analysis is probably wrong, but pending your clarification: I see her address causality, but I'm not sure that responds to neurological determinism, because it seems to rely upon 1) a stable and singular self-identity, which neuroscience is rapidly (and/or has already) disproving(/en) - consciousness is probably under continual reconstitution and composed of interaction/competition between various semi-independent modules in our brains - and 2) a cartesian model of self-as-observer-of-the-self, which is a paradox via regression.

 

EDIT - MMM, what's the magic word?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see no reasom that a society's prisons can not do both at the same time. Criminals should be punished and be taught a better way at the same time. It is like defensive driving. The course can be expensive, but less than a ticket and the insurance hike that follows. This is a punishment in addition to the length and boredom of the class. The rehab part is that knowing you have to wait a full year before being allowed to take the course again, you become more aware of speed zones, turn signals, etc. and drive better, at least for a while. To me, this is not simply an either or situation. It is possible to do both concurrently and so that should be the course taken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With regards to the determinism debate, I'm of the opinion that it doesn't really matter.  Read some Korsgaard or Searle.  Korsgaard talks a ton about responsibility and free will within determinism, and her arguments are incredibly convincing.  

 

How is her position distinct from compatibilism, if it is? I've read the link posted by meanmedianmode and agree with her arguments as described there, for reference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would you be so kind, please, as to restate/summarize some of these arguments so we can discuss it right now?

 

I skimmed some of this http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/philosophers/korsgaard/. My analysis is probably wrong, but pending your clarification: I see her address causality, but I'm not sure that responds to neurological determinism, because it seems to rely upon 1) a stable and singular self-identity, which neuroscience is rapidly (and/or has already) disproving(/en) - consciousness is probably under continual reconstitution and composed of interaction/competition between various semi-independent modules in our brains - and 2) a cartesian model of self-as-observer-of-the-self, which is a paradox via regression.

 

EDIT - MMM, what's the magic word?

I don't have time at the moment to summarize her arguments for compatibilism, but I'll get to it soon.  Her arguments for a unified self are not for a biological unification, but rather for a necessity to view yourself as unified as the basis for action.  Read her article: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3219881/Korsgaard_UnityofAgency.pdf?sequence=2

 

Also, she doesn't adopt the Cartesian model, but does defend a Constitutional model of the self.  It is based on the necessary fact that before we act we both can and have to stand back from our reasons.  Sorry if everything seems rushed, but I have very limited access to the Internet at the moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...