to me, revenge and retaliation have no relation to justice, nor does punishment. i also find the concept of punishment for breaking the law immoral. again, this does nothing but satisfy ego concerns. i dont see justice as something we make or serve, it is something that happens whether we like it or not. we wont always be able to identify it, but it is there. i define justice as consequences of action. this is another issue entirely of course.
why would you want to see a person 'rot in prison' if they could be educated or rehabilitated? or even if not rehabilitated, put into community service? and all these ideas have nothing to do with justice-they are only questions of law and order and illustrate society's dilemma in dealing with its members who disrupt and impair the likelihood that the species will continue successfully.
so there are two points of contention:
first, what is natural to people. (and animals in general for the most part). and second, what is the ego.
i say murder and rape are not natural, but people have come to use the excuse that it is natural in order to justify it. animals do not kill for revenge, do they? they kill for food or territory, to mate, or to protect their young. this serves their self and their species. i would say animals have no ego, which is why they are incapable of being immoral. i have heard that animals actually rape, but only certain ones which i believe would have no alternatives, or some other reasonable cause to resort to that, some circumstances that are exceptional that would not apply to either other animals or humans.
i believe animals and human beings have a self-the ego is not the self, it is a tool like the intellect. the ego does not serve the self, the ego has become the master of the self, that is part of the malfunction of human beings.
i believe people are going against their true nature when they behave in a manner that is unethical. the reason they do that is because they are not aware of their true nature-they believe their ego is the self and try to please it at all costs.
murder and rape do not serve or exalt the self in any way at all.
i also find the concept of punishment for breaking the law immoral. again, this does nothing but satisfy ego concerns.
I agree that the term natural is ambiguous and also that it has nothing to do with ethics.
in the case of animal behavior, I only recently heard about animals committing rape, and I would have to look into it to be sure what was going on. but I can hazard a guess that it is possible the observer is anthropomorphizing the situation. are there social groups of animals where one or two members consistently force females? or is it the behavior of all the males in some groups of certain species? there may be some conditions prevailing that have caused it to be arrived at as a solution through the process of natural selection. I have also heard of adult female members of species banding together to protect the younger ones from ambitious males since they are too young to survive it. is this compassion?
and the matter of territory is a major one to animals, though it may seem trivial to human beings. they would be only following what they must do in order to survive when they kill or maim (they would only have maimed by accident, the intention would be to dominate for the sake of territory by overpowering or killing I would think) human beings in a sense are still doing this by going to wars where land has no water or is unsuitable to sustain livestock or crops, etc. if there is no alternative it cant be immoral. but where there is technology to improve unusable territory, voluntary relocation or any other means of dealing with the problem, violence becomes illogical because it is self defeating.
I do not advocate allowing everyone to behave as they please-it is the issue of law and order, protecting the weak, that brings in the need for the justice system in government or ruling councils. the system of rewards and punishment is a failure in raising children and also when it is used as an artificial consequence in the attempt at correcting the behavior of adult criminals. if a society has reached a consensus of what it will tolerate and written laws to define the limits, then the members who break the laws must be given consequences in the hopes of their understanding why what they are doing is against the laws within their society. it is not enough to apply corporal punishment, to hope that shame or fear will prevent them from repeat offenses. the idea is to restore them to being a productive member of the society in which they live. they need to understand why it is not beneficial to commit the actions that have been illegalized in the sense of 'transcending nature' as you very aptly stated it. they can be given community service to perform, they can be introduced to yoga or other self improvement techniques, they can be put into group counseling. rehabilitation is the only sensible goal when someone breaks laws. if they have done so repeatedly and show no hope of change, they may be incarcerated for life solely as a means of freedom and protection for the rest of society.
the difference in human beings and animals is that animals have no ego or power of reason.
it is not to me an indication of malevolence when animals exhibit behavior like murder and rape. as i said i havent studied that, and i was guessing. i also guess that their behavior may in some cases be a result of malfunctioning of mental faculties. i am not suggesting animals can be psychotic-but they may have some gene or chemical imbalance that causes asocial behavior.
animals when they behave destructively cannot be rehabilitated or reasoned with-they should be destroyed. i would say they are innocent creatures who cannot be held accountable, but if they become a threat to human beings we have no other logical alternative.
human beings on the other hand have very high levels of sophistication in their intellect and ego as well as more complicated emotional reactions compared to animals. human beings are capable of screwing up their own minds and not even know they have done it. there are mental disorders that come from physical origin i am sure, but many come as a result of a human being impairing their own thought processes in order to cope with something in their lives. this is learned behavior and can be unlearned.
I attempted to understand by what you mean when you say the word 'revenge'. The posts I thought were key to this were as follows:
In post #12, "Revenge is simply a retaliation for a previous injustice."
In post #14, "I think that revenge is wrong most of the time, but I don't think that it is wrong all of the time."
In post #17, "I'm simply speaking of the role that self-interest plays in moral decision making."
However, I am still uncertain as to the definition of revenge you are working from. Whether I have chosen the wrong phrases to extrapolate your meaning or I have misunderstood completely, may I ask you to, please, provide a working definition of what you mean...?
if not for that last paragraph, from your post i would have deduced you were trying to understand something another person thought.
i know myself quite well in some areas, and i can assure you that i dont care whether or not a person is transcendent and if they are one day proved to be, i would say that animals and human beings share the same transcendent nature. i most definitely believe that humans and animals are subject to the same laws in nature whatever they are. i dont see human beings as having 'dominion' over the rest of the creatures on the earth. i feel there is as much soul in a rock as a human being and the only reason i would save the life of a human being over a cockroach is because i happen to be a human being myself, and that behavior is inbuilt into every species. that is self interest-ego is something else.
i also have some experience with subconscious attempts to cling to ideas...and your valiant attempts at protesting against things i am not even saying may be one on your part. perhaps it is you that wants desperately to believe there is a soul because you feel lost and devalued without one. methinks thou dost protest too mucheth...l
i do say this with all due respect and would never make such a personal remark except that you opened the door by trying to analyze my motives. and i am sorry if i hurt your feelings.
"If indeed you do recognize that human beings are animals, subject to the same deterministic laws as other animals, then how is it that you can condemn bad human behavior as being malicious, and yet absolve non-human animals of malice by considering them innocent when they do bad things? It's a contradiction, and that is my disagreement with you."
i am not clear on the meaning of 'deterministic laws'. this is a definition taken from an online dictionary: Determinism=1 a : a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws b :
Revenge is justified, but only depending on the situation. e.g. if student A cheated on student B, then student B told on him(which I think is like revenge, on a small scale basis), then it is justified, because student A is punished for what he done wrong. But if student A punched student B on the face because he told on him, then it is morally wrong, because student B did what is basically right, and student A was just wrong...
No no, Hue-man... what I am asking you for is a working definition of the term revenge. I understand that revenge is a retaliation but...
Does it mean merely an equal (or as equal as one can get) return for an injustice committed?
Does it mean an act or set of actions that go beyond an equal return?
What does the term mean to you as you are using it?
If, than, you mean by 'revenge', an equal return for an injustice committed, than I would say that it is always justified. By your definition of 'revenge' you mean 'justice'.
Though, the example you gave,
"...a man kills my child, and I retaliate by killing him"
... I would argue, is not an act of 'revenge' by your definition. As the retaliation you are imposing, does not appear, to me, to be equal to the crime.
The man kills your child. You kill the man. If it is just to kill the man for killing your child, than it is just to kill you for killing the man. And it goes on, ad absurdum, till everyone is dead.
If this is an equal return, than your example fits your definition. But, if it is not an equal return, than some revision of your definition, your example and/or what it is your are attempting to get at requires revision in order to gain then answer you seek.
When, if ever, is revenge morally justified? Please explain why or why not in your response?