You and your peers will discuss some of these issues and discuss which theory of justice is most logical and ethical.
In addition to your posted answer, be sure to comment on at least two of your classmatesâ€™ posts and participate regularly.
What method of reward and punishment is used in your family, and how does it fit in with the three theories?
The Biblical Perspective The extreme penalty of death was decreed in the law for many different crimes. “Not only such major crimes as idolatry, adultery, and murder, but even relatively minor transgressions like witchcraft, false prophecy, and rebelliousness against parents (to name but a few) were visited with the extreme penalty.”22
Imprisonment is a punishment, which differs from all other in this particular, that it necessarily precedes conviction; but this difference does not destroy a circumstance, which is essential, and common to it with all other punishments, that it should never be inflicted, but when ordained by the law. The law should, therefore, determine the crime, the presumption, and the evidence sufficient to subject the accused to imprisonment and examination. Public report, his flight, his extra-judicial confession, that of an accomplice, menaces, and his constant enmity with the person injured, the circumstances of the crime, and such other evidence, may be sufficient to justify the imprisonment of a citizen. But the nature of this evidence should be determined by the laws, and not by the magistrates, whose decrees are always contrary to political liberty, when they are not particular applications of a general maxim of the public code. When punishments become less severe, and prisons less horrible; when compassion and humanity shall penetrate the iron gates of dungeons, and direct the obdurate and inexorable ministers of justice, the laws may then be satisfied with weaker evidence for imprisonment.
But human sacrifices have also been common in almost all nations. That some societies only, either few in number, or for a very short time, abstained from the punishment of death, is rather favourable to my argument, for such is the fate of great truths, that their duration is only as a flash of lightning in the long and dark night of error. The happy time is not yet arrived, when truth, as falsehood has been hitherto, shall be the portion of the greatest number.
A person accused, imprisoned, tried and acquitted, ought not to be branded with any degree of infamy. Among the Romans, we see that many, accused of very great crimes, and afterwards declared innocent, were respected by the people, and honoured with employments in the state. But why is the fate of an innocent person so different in this age? It is, because the present system of penal laws presents to our minds an idea of power rather than of justice. It is, because the accused and convicted are thrown indiscriminately into the same prison; because imprisonment is rather a punishment, than a means of securing the person of the accused; and because the interior power, which defends the laws, and the exterior, which defends the throne and kingdom, are separate when they should be united. If the first were (under the common authority of the laws) combined with the right of judging, but not, however immediately dependent on the magistrate, the pomp that attends a military corps, would take off the infamy; which, like all popular opinions, is more attached to the manner and form, than to the thing itself; as may be seen in military imprisonment, which, in the common opinion, is not so disgraceful as the civil. But the barbarity and ferocity of our ancestors, the hunters of the north, still subsist among the people, in our customs and our laws, which are always several ages behind the actual refinements of a nation.
It seems as if banishment should be the punishment of those, who, being accused of an atrocious crime, are probably, but not certainly, guilty. For this purpose would be required a law, the least arbitrary, and the most precise possible; which should condemn to banishment those who have reduced the community to the fatal alternative, either of fearing or punishing them unjustly; still, however, leaving them the sacred right of proving their innocence. The reasons ought to be stronger for banishing a citizen than a stranger, and for the first accusation than for one who hath been often excused.
Painful and corporal punishments should never be applied to fanaticism; for being founded on pride, it glories in persecution. Infamy and ridicule only should be employed against fanatics; if the first, their pride will be overbalanced by the pride of the people; and we may judge of the power of the second, if we consider that even truth is obliged to summon all her force, when attacked by error armed with ridicule. Thus, by opposing one passion to another, and opinion to opinion, a wise legislator puts an end to the admiration of the populace, occasioned by a false principle, the original absurdity of which is veiled by some well-deduced consequences.
government will not suffer, in the midst of labour and industry, that kind of political idleness which is confounded, by rigid declaimers, with the leisure attending riches acquired by industry, which is of use to an increasing society, when confined within proper limits. I call those politically idle, who neither contribute to the good of society by their labour nor their riches; who continually accumulate, but never spend; and are reverenced by the vulgar with stupid admiration, and regarded by the wise with disdain; who, being victims to a monastic life, and deprived of all incitement to the activity which is necessary to preserve or increase its comforts, devote all their vigour to passions of the strongest kind, the passions of opinion. I call him not idle, who enjoys the fruits of the virtues or vices of his ancestors, and in exchange for his pleasures supports the industrious poor. It is not then the narrow virtue of austere moralists, but the laws, that should determine what species of idleness deserves punishment.
When robbery is attended with violence, corporal punishment should be added to slavery. Many writers have shown the evident disorder which must arise from not distinguishing the punishment due to robbery with violence, and that due to theft, or robbery committed with dexterity, absurdly making a sum of money equivalent to a man’s life. But it can never be superfluous to repeat, again and again, those truths of which mankind have not profited; for political machines preserve their motion much longer than others, and receive a new impulse with more difficulty. These crimes are in their nature absolutely different, and this axiom is as certain in politics as in mathematics, that between qualities of different natures there can be no similitude.
punishment of robbery, not accompanied with violence, should be pecuniary. He who endeavours to enrich himself with the property of another, should be deprived of part of his own. But this crime, alas! is commonly the effect of misery and despair; the crime of that unhappy part of mankind, to whom the right of exclusive property, a terrible, and perhaps unnecessary right, has left but a bare existence. Besides, as pecuniary punishment may increase the number of poor, and may deprive an innocent family of subsistence, the most proper punishment will be that kind of slavery, which alone can be called just; that is, which makes the society, for a time, absolute master of the person and labour of the criminal, in order to oblige him to repair, by this dependence, the unjust despotism he usurped over the property of another, and his violation of the social compact.
Should the person who is excluded for ever from society be deprived of his property? This question may be considered in different lights. The confiscation of effects, added to banishment, is a greater punishment than banishment alone; there ought then to be some cases, in which, according to the crime, either the whole fortune should be confiscated, or part only, or none at all. The whole should be forfeited, when the law, which ordains banishment, declares, at the same time, that all connections between the society and the criminal are annihilated. In this case, the citizen dies, the man only remains; and with respect to a political body, the death of the should have the same consequences with the death of the It seems to follow, then, that in this case, the effects of the criminal should devolve to his lawful heirs. But it is not on account of this refinement that I disapprove of confiscations. If some have insisted that they were a restraint to vengeance, and the violence of particulars, they have not reflected, that though punishments be productive of good, they are not, on that account, more just; to be just, they must be necessary. Even an useful injustice can never be allowed by a legislator, who means to guard against watchful tyranny; which, under the flattering pretext of momentary advantages, would establish permanent principles of destruction, and, to procure the ease of a few in a high station, would draw tears from thousands of the poor.