On Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 2:54 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
> Furthermore we have no idea how to "fix" the person in a mechanistic way
> - and if we did would it be ethical (c.f. "Clockwork Orange").

A further thought:  the solution to crime in A Clockwork Orange has a
similar problem...it's singular focus on the individual, while
ignoring the problems of the system within which the individual
developed.

So obviously if you have a person who has committed a crime, some
action has to be taken.  And you can't hand out "hardship" waivers
left and right just because the "criminal" can plausibly point to some
event in his past as a causal factor.  The crime was committed, and a
credible threat of "negative reinforcement" has to be maintained for
the sake of deterrence.

But rehabiitation isn't necessarily punishment...it could even be
viewed as "positive reinforcement", AND it's in everyone's
interest..perpetrator, society at large, as well as victims.

Further, if there's some common denominator amongst perpetrators of
crimes, such as poverty, and we want to reduce crime, why not raise
the priority of programs to reduce poverty instead of building more
prisons and passing 3-strikes type laws?

Obviously nobody is "pro-poverty", but I think framing the issue in
terms of "personal responsibility" and "free-will" incorrectly pushes
the debate away from systemic solutions towards an excessive focus on
individuals.

Though, obviously there are no perfect solutions, and violence will
always be with us.  BUT, Dawkins' tone in the link I sent sounds much
closer to the right attitude than the vibe I get from Dennett.

But again, Dennett is mainly interested in pushing his "Bright"
agenda...showing that Atheists are just like everybody else.  But if
"everybody else" are somewhat less than admirable (or at the very
least, less than rational) in their attitudes towards the maladjusted
members of society, then I don't see this as a big win.

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