[ExI] free-will, determinism, crime and punishment

gts gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 19 21:13:20 UTC 2007

On Sun, 19 Aug 2007 15:17:38 -0400, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> So far as I am concerned, a theory of retributive justice need
> not include the proposition that a human being *deserves* that
> something bad happen to him.

I would have to say then that you are thinking here of something other  
than retributive justice.

Sorry to repeat myself, but a central doctrine of the theory of  
retributive justice is that wrong-doers should get their just deserts, and  
that *this is how the scales of justice are balanced*. An eye for an eye,  
a tooth for a tooth.

(Incidentally, I misspelled "just deserts" in my previous post. I spelled  
it "just desserts" because that is how it is pronounced, but it's properly  
spelled with only one 's'. The word is obsolete except in this context. To  
get one's just deserts is get that which one justly deserves.)

> Maybe there is disagreement about what "causally autonomous agents"
> could be or are?  Or perhaps misunderstanding?  Let's affirm instead
> that we are all grown-ups here, and we do not in any way believe in
> uncaused events. So there really cannot be any such thing as a causally
> autonomous agent, right?

Right, or at least there is no evidence to prove such beasts exist. But  
how do we explain this to the jury when the prosecutor is seeking the  
death penalty instead of a life sentence on the grounds that he believes  
the defendant was a causally autonomous agent who chose to do wrong when  
he could have chosen to do right and thus deserves to die to balance the  
scales of justice?

The prosecution cannot prove that the defendant could have chosen to do  
right. It seems to me that people are dying in the electric chair for what  
amounts to a religious belief.

Do I feel sorry for the friends and relatives of the murder victims? Sure  
I do. I feel sorry for everyone involved.


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list