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What is the O'ist view on the death penalty?

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Do you consider rehabilitating a criminal while in prison to be a function of the welfare state? Is feeding and clothing the prisoner part of the welfare state as well?
Welfare states do typically consider their primary function to be rehablitating criminals. OTOH, even under a proper government, criminals would be able to eat and be sheltered. Typically, this has meant that criminals are provided with effortless food and shelter, but that isn't obligatory or even a good idea. It would certainly be wrong to fail to feed and to lock hoodlums up in brick warehouses, to starve to death. It would be totally right to provide them with a bit of land and some basic tools and livestock: although, you cannot till the soil without objects that are essentially weapons. But this here or even here would be a pretty good place to put criminals so that they would be out of the way of civilized people, and where they could manage to fend for themselves.
Criminals who successfully complete rehabilitation programs are much less likely to commit a crime when they get out of prison, as far as I know.
I'd be surprised if that were true in any interesting, causal way. First, we need to only consider rights-violating crimes: we should have no interest in using force to decrease repeated prostitution. Second, there is a huge chicken and egg question -- do these rehabilitation programs cause repentance, or to they measure repentance. An unrepentant criminal is significanly less likely to complete one of those bleeding heart programs successfully. Of course some will be clever enough to play the system, so the rate of unreformed graduates won't be zero. I would be very surprised to learn that there is good evidence that rehabilitation programs actually do good, meaning cause changes in immoral personalities.

Of course it is probably harmless to have such programs, as long as they are developed by volunteers and not made to be a part of the standard cost of imprisonment. I just suspect that such programs are a waste of time and money. I think that so-called rehabilitation should have no bearing on the disposition of the criminal, that is, they should not lead to premature unleashing of criminals against the public on the assumption that doing the program has a positive effect. I would put more stock in direct and compelling evidence of a change in character and no stock in going through the motions of working the system.

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I would have thought that the basis for sympathy is empathy, ie, relating your suffering to others.....of course if you've had a privileged life{which I suspect most scientists and philosophers have had }

First I would note that you failed to answer my question. I ask again; Where have I suggested you shouldn't be curious about why people murder other people?

I can relate to the suffering of those folks who have endured horrible tragedies and childhoods and STILL CHOSE to live moral and ethical lives. Those are the folks that deserve my sympathy and empathy. The people who CHOSE to repeat that which they themselves loathed, suffered from, and knew was wrong do not deserve nor get my sympathy.

What do you mean by the concept "a privileged life"? A life of unearned wealth? A life of not having to overcome difficulties and problems? A life of not having to be moral and ethical? I personally have not had a "privileged" life. I haven't suffered abuses as bad as some, but I certainly remember my mother chasing me around the house beating my with a belt until she wasn't mad anymore. From that I learned not to repeat the activity which I did not want executed on me. When you say "privileged", it appears to imply not having had to work or earn what you got, as though everything was provided for you or one was somehow lucky in circumstance. As a perfect example, I would also point out that Ayn Rand did not have a "privileged" childhood.

but in all seriousness how can people look at Charles Manson's{for ex} yrs of beatings/homosexual rapes and general neglect and not have some sympathy?
Trust me when I say, in all seriousness, I have no sympathy for Charles Manson. Do you think I lack sincerity or seriousness in my statement?

then what hope does someone habitually tortured have comparatively speaking, IOW, I'm not ruling out exceptions, but many of the famous killers have histories of abuse, usually disturbing in content and duration.

You seem to continually discard the fact that far more people suffer extreme abuses and do NOT become killers or serial killers. They certainly have personal issues to work through in their lives, but they still CHOSE to live reasonably ethical lives.

that being the case, it would seem that the abuse coupled with overall neglect including the neglect of intellectual and ethical developement would be a reasonable explanation for why some people kill strangers.
The only explanations I consider "reasonable" for killing a stranger (or anyone for that matter) are those which involve self defense and/or the defense of some other person from a person who initiating force. Oh, and of course, the Death Penalty.

From another post:

We can infer that there is a dynamic productive/destructive aka love/hate in play based on later observations and aided by a concept of man, the alternative would seem to suggest that human nature is just an endless list of activities.

I would caution you about the future use of the word "we". You can speak for yourself, but let others speak for themselves and what conclusions they derive from data.

[spelling corrections - RC]

Edited by RationalCop
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Do you consider rehabilitating a criminal while in prison to be a function of the welfare state? Is feeding and clothing the prisoner part of the welfare state as well?

Criminals who successfully complete rehabilitation programs are much less likely to commit a crime when they get out of prison, as far as I know. Maybe RationalCop may know about this and chime in.

I think there is no question that both of the above ARE functions of the current welfare state. Are you asking should they be?

I can't point you to significant hard data (yet), but I doubt the effectiveness of rehab programs in any significant way. I'm reasonably sure that a few people may actually turn around. However, after having determined a particular crime pattern by a person who is later incarcerated, when that pattern recurs, we look to see if that person is now out of jail. In most cases they are, and in most cases it's the same person doing the same type of crime again. In my experience, thieves have a remarkable rate of recidivism. Here is some information which appears to the conclusions of my experience:

http://reason.com/sullum/110802.shtml

I suspect thieves (and other property crime offenders) represents one of the largest categories of offenders, if not the largest.

The main problem I have with rehab is that I do not see an objective way to measure if someone has really been rehabilitated without releasing them back into society first. You can only go by what they tell you while they are incarcerated. A person who is looking to get out on "good behavior" can change their behavior in the short term, say all the right things, find religion, etc. etc. etc. in order to convince psychologists and prison officials that they are ready to rejoin society.

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Of course, but that doesn't prevent the abuse in the first place, this is the societal indifference I refer to, in that despite you being a law abiding citizen, you don't advocate any preventative measures and this prevalent mentality guarantees more madman{ as the evidence indicates, I'm not guessing}

What sort of "preventative measures" might be taken? Child abuse is a crime that is usually hidden and sometimes very difficult to detect. It's easy to blame "societal indifference" for abuse, however I don't see what preventive options we might have that aren't being employed currently. Perhaps you know of some?

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First I would note that you failed to answer my question.  I ask again; Where have I suggested you shouldn't be curious about why people murder other people?

Ok, I'm wrong about that.

I can relate to the suffering of those folks who have endured horrible tragedies and childhoods and STILL CHOSE to live moral and ethical lives.  Those are the folks that deserve my sympathy and empathy.  The people who CHOSE to repeat that which they themselves loathed, suffered from, and knew was wrong do not deserve nor get my sympathy
I use serial killing as a graphic manifestation of a failure to care for all members of society regardless of age or socio-economic status, however, psychatrist's usually estimate that 3-5% of Western pops are sociopathic.....how do you account for that estimate?

What do you mean by the concept "a privileged life"?  A life of unearned wealth?  A life of not having to overcome difficulties and problems?

I assume that many people who study philosophy/science are from middle-upper middle class backgrounds, that's all I meant.

Trust me when I say, in all seriousness, I have no sympathy for Charles Manson.  Do you think I lack sincerity or seriousness in my statement?
It sounds like you consider that intensity a badge of honour.

You seem to continually discard the fact that far more people suffer extreme abuses and do NOT become killers or serial killers.  They certainly have personal issues to work through in their lives, but they still CHOSE to live reasonably ethical lives.

IMO, there's a turning point{impossible to predict, must be infered}, and once beyond that point, people become sociopaths as medically defined.

I would caution you about the future use of the word "we".  You can speak for yourself, but let others speak for themselves and what conclusions they derive from data.

It was obviously a figure of speech.

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What sort of "preventative measures" might be taken?  Child abuse is a crime that is usually hidden and sometimes very difficult to detect.  It's easy to blame "societal indifference" for abuse, however I don't see what preventive options we might have that aren't being employed currently.  Perhaps you know of some?

Being that I consider destructive tendencies, immorality and irrationality to result from child abuse/neglect....then I would want a restructure of society whereby we define a fit parent, and allow those who pass psychiatric tests to have children.

I hardly expect that this would ever be accepted as most people consider themselves as owners of children, whereas I consider it a privilege based on parental competency.

Btw, from my POV, there is the truthstakes, ie, that which truthseekers can discuss, and that which is practical, given the widespread irrationality....my ideas aren't practical at this juncture, but may or may not be of interest to certain truthseekers.

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I use serial killing as a graphic manifestation of a failure to care for all members of society regardless of age or socio-economic status, however, psychatrist's usually estimate that 3-5% of Western pops are sociopathic.....how do you account for that estimate?

Who is supposed to be "caring" for who? Who "failed"? Because when you say "failure," that implies the existence of some affirmative duty. Say you have two people, A and B. If B dies due to a lack of food, you can convey that information in two ways.

One is, "B died of starvation" or something similar. This doesn't refer to A at all.

The other is, "Somebody (in this case A) failed to care for B" or something similar. This is like what you said. It implies that A has an affirmative duty to care for B. If he didn't have such a duty, you wouldn't say he "failed."

The entirety of your posts on this point express or imply that there is some sort of affirmative duty on "society" to make sure that all of its members don't become whackos. (Even though, IIRC, you have tried to deny that's what you're doing.)

What is your argument for this? Why does it take a village? Why do I have to invest some of my life making sure that someone else's kid doesn't lose his head?

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however, psychatrist's usually estimate that 3-5% of Western pops are sociopathic.....how do you account for that estimate?

I don't have to account for figure which in and of itself has no real meaning. I could care less what psychatrist's estimate.

It sounds like you consider that intensity a badge of honour.

What do you mean by this, as it again fails to answer the question asked? In fact, it sounds a bit like an attempt at an underhanded insult. If so, I suggest you retract it. If not, provide further explanation and justification for your comment.

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What is your argument for this?  Why does it take a village?  Why do I have to invest some of my life making sure that someone else's kid doesn't lose his head?

We have irreconcilable opinions on this matter and I no longer consider responding to you on this matter as worthwhile...having said that, I haven't written you off as a fool or anything like that, but if the above comment is reflective of your attitude, then I feel as though I've reached a barrier which I haven't a hope of overcoming.

I have no problems discussing Objectivist epistemology with people, but I feel worlds apart on these issues{and perhaps I'm wrong}, but I think this is the wrong forum for expressing my views in what I call the truthstakes, it's moreso for examining Objectivism's epistemology.

I expect that some might take offense at this, but none is intended.

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We have irreconcilable opinions on this matter and I  no longer consider responding to you on this matter as worthwhile...having said that, I haven't written you off as a fool or anything like that, but if the above comment is reflective of your attitude, then I feel as though I've reached a barrier which I haven't a hope of overcoming.

The "above comment" to which you refer is reflective of me asking you a question. Why do you think I have an affirmative duty to everyone else to try to keep them from going nuts? Continuing to state your position does not do anything to prove it.

If you won't argue for your position, then you are right. You have no hope of convincing me of anything.

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I have no problems discussing Objectivist epistemology with people, but I feel worlds apart on these issues{and perhaps I'm wrong}, but I think this is the wrong forum for expressing my views in what I call the truthstakes, it's moreso for examining Objectivism's epistemology.

I expect that some might take offense at this, but none is intended.

I doubt anyone will be offended by your recognition that this forum is not the right place for promoting a non-Objectivist viewpoint. In fact, that is in line with forum rules. If you are here to try understand things from an Objectivist point of view, most likely you will be welcomed. But attempts to challenge that viewpoint will be met with argument, and depending on how it is presented, disdain.

What people will likely be offended by is when you question the sincerity of their posts (which you have apologized for), or when you try to imply an unchosen obligation on them based on someone else's problems, particularly without backing that up with facts or a philosophical argument.

So, similar to what Groovenstein asked, why do you feel (or preferably think) someone else's problems impose an unchosen obligation on the next guy?

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Being that I consider destructive tendencies, immorality and irrationality to result from child abuse/neglect....then I would want a restructure of society whereby we define a fit parent, and allow those who pass psychiatric tests to have children.

I hardly expect that this would ever be accepted as most people consider themselves as owners of children, whereas I consider it a privilege based on parental competency.

Btw, from my POV, there is the truthstakes, ie, that which truthseekers can discuss, and that which is practical, given the widespread irrationality....my ideas aren't practical at this juncture, but may or may not be of interest to certain truthseekers.

Not to pile on here, but your idea about requiring prospective parents to take a psychiatric test is a stunningly bad one, IMO. Who would administer such a test? How would it be designed to produce objective results? What would society do with parents who fail the test, but still have children? The whole thing sounds very totalitarian as well as impractical.

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  • 6 months later...

I'm really on the fence about this. On one hand, I really don't like the idea of the government having the power to execute its citizens [since corruption int hat department would be horrendously powerful and almost unstoppable], but on the other hand I really don't like the idea of my wages being put to use as dinner for the bastard who shot those poor sons of bitches a couple years ago in that tenement downtown.

What really sticks in my craw though, are these goddamn liberals [thanks for stealing our term, by the way, "Liberal" used to refer to Classic Liberals " i.e. people with more than just gray mush in their heads] who whine and bitch about how "inhumane" our killing procedures are, and how at the very least, condemned killers desrve some modicum of "dignity" in their passage, if only on the merit of their status as human beings alone, a concept which has never sat well with me.

I suppose, as long as prisons are tax-funded, I'll have to support whichever option results in my being able to keep more of my own money. I've heard both sides argue that their way is cheaper, but I find the claim that keeping someone alive for fifty years as being cheaper then sending them back to court twice and throwing a switch somewhat dubious at best, which is why I lean [for the moment] towards the death penalty.

I bet there's about a million things about this that I haven't thought of yet, and this looks like the place to be made aware of them. What are your thoughts on the subject?

EDIT: I totally didn't see this thread; thanks for the merge. I even looked for one! :thumbsup:

Edited by Melkor
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Because of the possibility of executing an innocent person, I think the death penalty should be kept for extremely heinous crimes (Multiple murders or rapes, combined rape and murder, prolonged torture), and should have an evidence benchmark - like video/photograph or DNA evidence. It should also be reserved for situations where no compensation for the victim is possible.

I understand Objectivism doesn't explicitly support or denounce the death penalty, and it is my understanding that the same goes for forced criminal labor - someone please correct me if I am wrong. As far as it helps to keep costs down, I think chain gangs should be used. This would help to pay for prisons and compensate victims. A small fraction could be kept aside for the criminals themselves so they would have a nest egg to use after prison. It is, after all, hard for felons to find work, and this would give them some extra time at nobody's expense.

If this type of forced labor were allowed, there would be an argument against the death penalty in any case where the victim still lives. Precautions should still be taken to make sure nobody makes a business out of being a victim. The value of the death penalty is hyper-dependent on context.

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Because of the possibility of executing an innocent person, I think the death penalty should be kept for extremely heinous crimes...

I tend to agree. Lately, there's been a lot of talk about this on my other forum, largely as a result of the Stanley Tookie Williams execution, which was carried out [thank 'God'] anyway. The prevailing argument in this thread disgusted me so much that I decided to take my leave around post 40 or so. The topic had been revistited a number of times in the following days, and that didn't make it any easier for me to stomach the argument "Hes doing good for society so we ought to let him off the hook."

Even if I am on the fence about the death penalty, I certainly don't endorse the idea of contradicting verdicts.

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Lately, there's been a lot of talk about this on my other forum, largely as a result of the Stanley Tookie Williams execution, which was carried out [thank 'God'] anyway.

...

and that didn't make it any easier for me to stomach the argument "Hes doing good for society so we ought to let him off the hook."

The fundamental issue in death cases is actual guilt: I don't have an opinion on that, since evidence isn't here before me. The second and third issues are protection of society and justice (and I leave it up in the air which is second vs. third). The protection issue is, simply, that people must be protected against murderers, which can be done in two ways. One is to lock him up in solitary confinement forever, so that it's physically impossible for him to murder again. Execution also works. The problems with permanent incarceration are that it's not foolproof (killers escape and they do kill guards or other prisoners), and that it costs money which comes from... Then there is justice: the principle of neither seeking or granting the unearned or undeserved. All trades come at a cost -- I give you this, you give me that. The idea that a man can slaughter innocents and then demand forgiveness because he eventually decides to speak out against his evil nature is a clear statement of the perceived worthlessness of the 4 victims. It is a statement that those 4 lives are of no more value than a perfunctory apology (not even for the murders!).
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