[–] Piroko 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago  (edited ago)

Have you read Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers?

Schopenhauer, Hobbes, and Plato have various degrees of similar views, as did the Confucians.

It gets down to the nature of punishment.

Punishment, in the view of these men, and myself, is ultimately about deterrence. To be effective, deterrence must deter, and in order for punishment to deter, it must be extremely undesirable. Cruel, in the hope that it will be so cruel that it becomes unusual (in that you don't have to do it very much).

Because ultimately if punishment is NOT deterrence, then it has to be revenge, balancing some impartial scale that the crime has thrown out of balance. But revenge is morally indefensible, it does not redress grievance. No amount of wrongs sum to right.

So it must be deterrence. But on that a second question is raised...

Is it defensible to punish the innocent?

The answer to that is, yes, it is.

To defend this I lean on hard psychology, the work of BF Skinner. Positive punishment is the most effective form of operant conditioning. Basic training for soldiers, education for children, housebreaking pets, these are all situations where a person did nothing with a guilty mind and yet was punished, sometimes very harshly.

But on a more basic level, trial and error itself is punishment. Causality punishes; if you jump off a cliff, you will fall and possibly die, arguably making it a bad decision that you should not do.

When a person does something with guilty mind, that person is, in my view, a broken person. We must dig deep into the toolkit of hard psychology to use the most effective tools to fix them if they have not harmed others deliberately.

If they HAVE harmed others deliberately, then they ought be removed from society permanently. It is not fair to the rest of society to give them another chance to harm.