Specificaly this form:

The Western notion of justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, equity or fairness.

There is no way to equally judge another human being or bring back what the violation has caused equally. The attempt will lead to mistakes and cruelty. More insidious is the notion someone can bring justice. I bring this up because the smart men and women I know (asked 40) all agreed this is why they still believe in the religion they believe in. Some cited fear of death as number 2 but all said they believe there has to be justice  from higher power ultimatey. And that this is the only solace they have in this world. They believe someone who took so much life, like a Dahmer, would have to be judged by something eternal. I said someone in war may take 100's of lives but this is judged justice because they did it under orders or for a "just" cause.

Justice does seem to be hard wired instinctual.Most social mammals show different degrees of abhorrents to inequality.Especially primates.

But essentially isn't the pursuit of real justice not possible? Calling it necessary means this will make those who deem the power to wield it, to better humanity, unjust from the beginning? Isn't justice another way of claiming superiority? Doesn't a despot in the world use it to claim there power? If we agree justice is not a noble pursuit and clearly impossible (like following the word of god), what laws or punishments should be changed or updated? How would you feel if a mass murder or child molester was treated with a kind hand, rather than the visceral feeling of gutting them like a pig and dancing in the entrails as they slowing die. I am the first to admit this sounds more like justice at a primal level. But should we be smarter than that?

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Thats what I am discussing here. Would you hit someone with down syndrome in the mouth because they hit you first? And if you did would you think they got what they deserved? No one gets there just deserts. The pursuit of trying to give people what they "deserve" is exactly what religion teaches. And hasn't worked and won't work and now we know better and still do nothing to change that circle of violence. If you need a replacement for revenge, its treatment. This is the same for any vice like greed for giving or apathy for love. The good stuff is always a more powerful addiction.

Would you hit someone with down syndrome in the mouth because they hit you first?

Yes. Last time I checked they still had the ability to learn.

Or was that one of those sappy "would you hit someone weaker/lesser than yourself" questions where you're implying that downs people are somehow less than us and deserve pity?

Gangs are into revenge, too. As are jealous, over-controlling husbands. Why aren't victims mentioned in any of your argument?

I would agree that the system's not optimal, but I also think that the more significant cause of violence is the emotional disconnect between perpetrators and society. Such disconnects have been prevalent for so long in "civilized" culture that people hardly consider inclusion as a preventative and cure, but accept institutionalized exclusion. The only way to overcome such disconnects is in what we can do for people, before they become perpetrators or victims. So in that sense, we could do better by reducing crime even before it gets to stages of consequences.

I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm saying that too many people don't think much past the simplest institutional solutions. We expect and assume isolation and privacy at home rather than the annoyance of actually dealing face-to-face with people whose disconnections keep growing to pathological and violoent proportions. I think we'll only be able to solve this by being introspective with respect to our basic human nature and tendencies, and with a wider range of people willing to take time out of their private lives to somehow interact more with the more isolated groups and members of society.

I consider civilization to be a grand experiment, with no easy solutions, and most people just don't have a clue. As far as religion is concerned, their unfortunate presumption is that only God knows how to fix things, and people will never really be able to fix themselves.

He doesn't mention victims because he is not looking at the question from their viewpoint.  Also, he clearly hasn't had much experience with wrongdoers.  Some of them will never respond to any "treatment".  Likewise, some of them have never developed beyond the first stage of moral development--the fear of punishment stage.  There are a great number of people in our society who never get beyond this stage.  One of the reasons this is so is that religion teaches people that this is the only, and thus highest, stage of moral development.  If you raise children to think that the only reason to behave morally is fear of god's punishment, then you shouldn't be surprised that they show a distinct lack of actual morality.

Wrongdoers love that one. You are correct and wouldn't that make them mentally incapable of understanding there actions they have not developed past that state? Please don't let me be misunderstood. if its a fair law we understand why we need to follow and adhere tot he law then its only a sick person who wants to hurt themselves (and others). We have hospitals that take care of severely mentally retarded people. But Jails actually imply a set amount of time to serve and then out. If they receive no treatment for their illness they will get out and do it again. That is one of my points with all this. Right now we are housing the insane until they are let out to do it again. And if they are not insane before they go (like they lost it and are better) then the lessons learned in jail could cause them to think ill.

I really am not naive about this. This pursuit of justice is not possible because NO two people in any given situation is exactly the same. And treating them as such is how we have decided to house it away from our eyes. We are not handling our shit so it don't come back and shit on us over and over again. Too many unfair laws enforced on too many of the most vulnerable in our society and no one is willing (including me) to really try something different that might work. We spend billions on making our penis hard until we die at 100 but we won't figure out the investment into research here might save us billions of lives and dollars?

The justice system doesn't have as its end perfecting society but rather about seeing that, as much as possible, those affected (victim if still alive, perpetrator, third parties affected by the act) receive something approaching what they deserve.

We don't have a justice system. We have a punitive system bent on housing the insne because of the need for revenge. No one believes you should be above the law even when you put a 19 yr old to jail for 5 or more years for having a few joints on him. He gets out and what did he learn in jail? No one gets what they deserve because we are too interested in not dealing with it.A murdered son is still murdered and gone even if we kill the person who did it. that death done by the state is not justice no matter how the victims family feels about it. Yeah it sucks I don't like thinking about the bad guys getting help and a second chance, but that means the 19 yr old should NOT be in jail either we have to examine our laws without the prejudice of the victims or special interest feelings. That includes the murderer.

Well who is the victim and who is not the victim? We have groups set up to help with grief counseling which I have gone through. It is extremely important to understand how this may have happened or how to deal with not knowing how this has happened, without god invoked in every instance. I agree Gangs are very retribution based. That is a base level of trying to get respect. No different the Israel and Palestine. We even have it in our penal codes.

i think its hard for everyone to understand that some who murders could have lost their mind for an hour or could be so far down the rabbit hole in their head that they aren't even in this world any longer. But they are held up and prodded until they can be tried and sent to prison for what they did pretty much while they were a sleep. Imagine waking up one day and you just killed you wife. You have recollections of the feelings but its like not you. So many scenario's could be attached here. I am not forgetting victims its about stopping the next victim or helping the victim understand why to move on more successfully.

Emotional disconnect could be one of the reasons certainly a part of the issue. And I agree it is all about stopping the next bullet. Helping those who hurt others is a real hard thing to do. i got kids and sometimes the things they do make no sense at all.But everyone is different. Some of us are very introspective and face time is actually emotionally and physically draining.

The experiment is always on going but sometimes the answers are counter intuitive to the way society says it should be. Look at The Stanford prison experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

The guards watch what they did and they all felt bad afterwards.

I think we need a discussion of something like this: suppose we were to discover that every crime were the result of the lack of a previously undiscovered vitamin present only in rutabaga roots. So, someone murders someone. Do we just tell them to get more rutabaga root in their diet and send them home and forget about the effect(s) their crime had on others?

A more feasible analogy might be that we discover that every crime is a result of an anomalous growth in the brain, but that it can be surgically removed.  So now what?

Yeah. Does fixing the criminal fix the harm they've left in their wake.

It's entirely possible that a repaired criminal ("fix" could mean something the vet would do, so I will avoid that word and its variants here, since such treatment has been suggested for rapists) would, if his crime were particularly heinous, be unable to live with himself.

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