Is Revenge Justifiable By Making Punishment The Responsibility Of Social Institutions

2292 WordsDec 10, 201410 Pages
Retributive Intuitions Revenge is a concept as old as time. While it can be justified, revenge is often not carried out in a rational and justifiable manner. Retributive theories of punishment attempt to make revenge justifiable by making punishment the responsibility of social institutions. The emotions that fuel retributive desires and inform subsequent theories of punishment are understandable from the human perspective. However, in order to correctly justify these retributive emotions in response to crime, they must be examined from an impartial perspective. Evolutionarily speaking, animals respond negatively to injury by another agent and act with proper aggression towards the agent that has injured him. There is a survival advantage…show more content…
Because the community dictates that cooperation is right and the hindering of this to be wrong, it is decided by the community that this person deserves to be punished in some way. These retributive emotions are an intrinsic response to what humans feel is right or wrong. While Mackie argues that retributive intuitions have no rational or moral basis because they come from basic evolutionary behaviors, I do not believe this conclusion is correct. Society’s institutionalized norms are based upon instincts that inform our morality and allow the collective sense of what is right or wrong to develop within a community. Retributive emotions exist because of evolutionary concepts of cooperation within a community as a survival instinct; however, they are only justified because humans have given social importance to these concepts through institutions that dictate what is legally and morally right or wrong. Collective ideas about what actions are right or wrong are determined by society and inform that society’s morality. These collective ideas are institutionalized into social norms that make up the human retributive intuition. Humans contain the intuition to get back at those that do wrong because we want to live in a cooperative society with good, just people. This desire creates our feeling of duty to rehabilitate those who do wrong and teach them about the moral
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