2009/9/5 Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com>:

>> http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html#dawkins
> It seems foolish to beat Basil's car because (1) we know the beating
> will not improve it's function and (2) we know that is must be possible
> to fix it (since we built it in the first place).  However neither of
> these is true in the case of dealing with a person who has committed a
> crime (I disdain the word "criminal" as if it were a separate species).
> Such a person may be deterred from further crimes by some punishment and
> more to the point other persons may be deterred by the example.
> 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").

But there is a difference between punishment to serve some utilitarian
end - reducing crime - and punishment as retribution.

It's also interesting to consider what would happen if we could easily
change people's character and motivations. Would it be better to
forcibly change a violent psychopath's brain so that he becomes a nice
person and thanks you for it afterwards, or would it be better to lock
him up to prevent him re-offending?

Stathis Papaioannou

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