Kilroy Was Here
May 08, 2004
Retribrution Desire
Kenny in the Cardinal Collective wrote a post on the philosophy of punishment that inspired the following thoughts.

I've recently read a book called "The Science of Good and Evil" which tries to ground morals and ethics in evolutionary psychology.

One of the theses of this book is that feelings such as righteousness and guilt are a 'moral sense' that is developed by the evolution of social species. In much the same way as feeling hungry or horny is the product of evolutionary pressures.

Under this framework, the desire for 'retribrution' and 'revenge' would also be developed through evolutionary pressues. That is, those pre-historic humans who had a well-developed sense of 'retribrution' formed more orderly and effective groups (and probably were more effective at wiping out human groups with less developed feelings of 'retribution').

If 'retribrution desire' is an inherent part of our biology, then we will never be able to convince people to abandon it. So the question is, how can we harness it or thwart it to create a better society?

For example, religion, 'magic', and blood money have been used to sublimate 'retribrution desire.' "No need to kill off all those McCoys. There all going to hell anyway." or "Heck, Granny Hatfield is going to put a curse on all those McCoys." or "The McCoys owe our clan 14 cows for the death of Jethro."

Criminal laws and prisons are another attempt to avoid vigilantism and blood feuds.

Since the biggest obstacle to using prisons as 'rehabilitation centers' is 'retribrution desire', and since that desire won't go away, how can we sublimate it and still achieve rehabilitation?

Blood money might be a good way. Send the offenders to a rehabilitation center for job training, etc. After 1-5 years in the rehabilitation center, 30% of all their pay goes to the families for a period of X years of employment.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head.

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