Dante Posted October 6, 2010 Report Share Posted October 6, 2010 But it is you who are asking for the impossible. Man must act on the basis of his knowledge, he is not omniscient. As he gains knowledge, or in this case evidence of a rights-violating crime, then his epistemological certainty increases. But the point is, it is not either "I have no idea if this guy committed this crime, so I'm just going to kick his door in and see what happens" or "I know for absolutely sure that this man is guilty." There exists a state of "I am reasonably certain that this man probably is guilty." That is the basis for an objective probable cause for arrest. If the police do nab the wrong guy, then they can reimburse him for any damages caused. First of all, I'm not asking for omniscience at all. I acknowledge the point that as we gain knowledge, eventually we reach the level of certainty required for punishment. This is the function of the courts. However, oftentimes police officers have to act quickly in situations where this burden of proof hasn't been reached, and we as society give them a significant amount of discretion to act in such circumstances. This is what I'm talking about; the rules we construct to govern how police officers should respond when they don't yet have enough of the facts, but need to act now... those rules are based on some attempt to minimize the potential for rights violations. Let me probe what I see as your alternate, purely certainty-based justification for police action against others. Let's take two situations. In the first, I am a policeman who has just learned a fact which makes me think that the person I'm considering arresting kidnapped someone two years ago. This kidnapped person had subsequently been found dead long ago. In the second situation, I am also a policeman, who has just learned a fact which makes me think that the person I'm considering arresting kidnapped someone yesterday, and the person is probably still alive somewhere. If probable cause arrests were based solely on certainty, rather than some balancing of rights-violations in an attempt to minimize them, I should require the same standard of proof in both cases. I'm dealing with the same type of crime, after all. However, if I am trying to minimize rights violations, then I require much less proof to arrest the man in the second situation. This crime is time-sensitive, and there is a good chance that if I am arresting the right guy, I will save someone's life. I would argue that you should require less proof to arrest someone on the spot in the second case, and I would base that argument on the existence of the possibility that you could save the victim's life in the second case. Otherwise, the reductio ad absurdum of the position that the police initiating force is just inevitable would be that trials then are pointless, then government itself would be pointless and we are in a Hobbesian state of war of all against all. The whole point of government is to establish these objective rules that make the use of retaliatory force organized as to minimize the initiation of force to the least possible amount, given human error. Certainly no justification for legalized plunder. I'm confused. In the first sentence it sounds like you're disagreeing with me, by saying that accepting any amount of initiation of force is awful. However, in the second sentence you reference the goal of objective rules as "minimization" of initiation of force. Can you clarify? Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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