The Morality of Revenge

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Mnemosyne phil
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 03:21 pm
@hue-man,
What I am saying is that:

Rationally, killing the man for killing your child isBut, I sense a mistake I have made.For sake of argument, we will say B did not wish to die. But now we see that the C killing A may be a completely different crime(?). The crime(?) that C is committing is killing (forcibly taking the life of someone against their will) of a guilty victim A. For sake of argument, we will say A did not wish to die. So,

Let's grant to you that C killing A is an equal return for A's crime of killing innocent B.
What about C's crime(?) of killing guilty A?
Is there a just return awaiting C?
Or is C morally off the hook?

And it is here where now the answer to the question of whether revenge is morally justified is not the answer you seek, but whether corporal punishment is morally justified.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 03:56 pm
@TheSingingSword,
Hola,

I think there are various ethical aspects to Revenge that might be good to spell out. Towards that end, here's how I'd say it:

  • I understand the emotional temptation to impose revenge on someone in response to an injury; that quality of reaction that makes one want to strike out in retaliation out of hurt. I'm not imbuing value or condemning here; however, I think it often plays a major role and therefore ought to be acknowledged.


  • I also understand the relationship many people ascribe to the concepts of justice and revenge (the latter as a means to achieve the former). This Eye or an Eye notion - as a sort of fairness - is deeply ingrained into my culture's dominant mindset.

[INDENT][INDENT]Smack me, I have the right to smack you back! (payback)
Hurt me, and I will hurt you in turn (payback)
Pain me, and I'll serve you in kind! (payback)
[/INDENT][/INDENT]
  • As someone's already posted, I recognize that the threat of revenge may serve as a deterrent to injurious behavior (the extent to which this is true is not only debatable, but dependent on innumerable factors). I acknowledge this as possible - and therefore playing a part - but unreliable and unpredictable.

Nonetheless, if I am to evaluate the ethics of someone's response to a perceived injustice, I can't come up with a single iota of logic that says the first injury is made better, fixed (or otherwise 'OK') by imposition of a second. In this case, we now only have two injurious - and likely unethical - actions, and two wrongs, if we've indeed judged them as such, don't make a right.

And although the devil's in the details - and these details might proscribe a wholly different approach - I think one screams for acknowledgment: Whatever you think someone's motives were for doing 'X' - think again, you likely don't know half the story.[INDENT]In other words, I see it as understandable that someone, in the heat of response to a perceived injustice, might want to strike back at the perceived source of pain. But I wonder how many times such a thing has been done, when in the end equation it was learned that something completely different had caused the first injury.
[/INDENT]So no, as I understand the concept and within this context; no, I do not judge revenge as a moral act. I'll qualify this by saying the circumstances could mitigate this, but I'm having a hard time coming up with any.

Thanks
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 05:17 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;85844 wrote:
In this case, we now only have two injurious - and likely unethical - actions, and two wrongs, if we've indeed judged them as such, don't make a right.


That's the thing; I don't see anything being inherently wrong with killing someone who kills an innocent victim. What if killing the killer saves five more innocent lives? Is that not justified?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 05:29 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;85860 wrote:
That's the thing; I don't see anything being inherently wrong with killing someone who kills an innocent victim. What if killing the killer saves five more innocent lives? Is that not justified?


Do you know this person is guilty? What happens if you're wrong? Does he come back? Or is that that the accusers are never wrong, because in that scenario that's what it'd take.

How would we know that five more innocent lives were saved? Is this a "maybe" thing? Can I justify such an act on a maybe? What's more, assuming we could respond to the positive on these two questions; how might we go about compute what is proportional? Do we have a suffering meter on what might happen? In your example of the killer; might we then computer human life on a scale where the loss of 1 is ok to save 2 (or 1.3), 5 is worth sacrificing for 10? See what I mean?

I don't dismiss your point completely - I get it - and from a certain utilitarianistic point, I'm with you. But this goes down some spurious ethical ground, wouldn't you say?

Thanks
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 05:37 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;85862 wrote:
Do you know this person is guilty? What happens if you're wrong? Does he come back? Or is that that the accusers are never wrong, because in that scenario that's what it'd take.

How would we know that five more innocent lives were saved? Is this a "maybe" thing? Can I justify such an act on a maybe? What's more, assuming we could respond to the positive on these two questions; how might we go about compute what is proportional? Do we have a suffering meter on what might happen? In your example of the killer; might we then computer human life on a scale where the loss of 1 is ok to save 2 (or 1.3), 5 is worth sacrificing for 10? See what I mean?

I don't dismiss your point completely - I get it - and from a certain utilitarianistic point, I'm with you. But this goes down some spurious ethical ground, wouldn't you say?

Thanks


I'm presenting a scenario where the culprit has been positively identified. For example, a video is found where the man is committing the crime, or the avenger has witnessed the crime being committed first hand in the brightest of lights.
 
Yogi DMT
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 05:58 pm
@salima,
salima;83377 wrote:
i dont believe revenge is ever morally justified under any circumstances. it serves no purpose other than to gratify personal feelings that are negative. it generates more violence thereby propagating what it might purport to prevent.

i believe it was suggested in judaic and islamic scriptures to be meted out in equal measure, an eye for an eye, as an alternative to the way revenge was being carried out historically. even then in the qur'an it points out that restraint would be better. when one family would exterminate another for the crime of an individual, the tribe of the murdered family would take revenge on an entire tribe, and there was no end to it, no hope of resolving the issue. it was cited as a means of introducing a system of ethics that would evolve over time , in my opinion.


I agree, there is no benefit whatsoever in holding grudges or wanting revenge. If you desire revenge you are simply immature. Two wrongs never made a right. I don't necessary think that revenge is purporting to prevent violence though. Revenge is my opinion is all about pride. You might be considered a pushover if you don't seek out some sort of revenge. Expressing how you feel and letting a person know they are wrong in your opinion is fine but taking action isn't the way to go about things. It's all about getting even and making sure you haven't "lost". If we could just get past that immediate burst of anger and frustration, we would be better off.
 
salima
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 06:04 pm
@hue-man,
in my opinion killing of any kind or description is wrong because it can only be a logical act as a matter of survival of the individual or another individual or the species.

say you want to contend the killer being dead will benefit society, so the act is moral. but there are laws to deal with that-why circumvent the law that society has chosen to put in place? ok, some laws are unethical-but why not work to change the law and society's understanding? this will have more far-reaching effects on the issue of eliminating killing in general. this is why when i compare revenge to the options available i find it to be an emotional reaction that does nothing but gratify the ego.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 06:45 pm
@salima,
salima;85875 wrote:
in my opinion killing of any kind or description is wrong because it can only be a logical act as a matter of survival of the individual or another individual or the species.


I completely disagree with that assessment! What about killing in the name of self-defense or to save innocent lives?
 
salima
 
Reply Wed 26 Aug, 2009 06:56 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;85887 wrote:
I completely disagree with that assessment! What about killing in the name of self-defense or to save innocent lives?


i'm sorry, i think i made that very unclear. actually i am saying exactly what you just said. killing can be justified to survive or to protect others.

i should have stated it thus:
in my opinion, killing of any kind or description can only be considered a logical act as a matter of survival of the individual or another individual or the species.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 06:28 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;85866 wrote:
I'm presenting a scenario where the culprit has been positively identified. For example, a video is found where the man is committing the crime, or the avenger has witnessed the crime being committed first hand in the brightest of lights.


Gotcha - and I can empathize. But the other questions/concerns I posed still stand (at least for me).

Thanks
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 06:42 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;85860 wrote:
That's the thing; I don't see anything being inherently wrong with killing someone who kills an innocent victim. What if killing the killer saves five more innocent lives? Is that not justified?

No it is not justified if there are others ways to prevent the killer from killing another five innocent victims, such as locking them up for life, (by that I mean life). Can you not see the contradiction? That you are killing someone for killing, therefore I would suggest it is your anger not justice that drives you to slaughter/execute another human being.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 06:57 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;85977 wrote:
it is your anger not justice that drives you to slaughter/execute another human being.


Maybe it is my anger, but I don't see how anger necessarily entails immorality. Define justice?

---------- Post added 08-27-2009 at 09:04 AM ----------

Khethil;85972 wrote:
Gotcha - and I can empathize. But the other questions/concerns I posed still stand (at least for me).

Thanks


If I understood you correctly, one of your concerns was the weakness of the utilitarian theory. I don't really consider myself to be a utilitarian, though I do see some strengths in the theory. I'm more of a virtue ethicist.

Your other concerns were "do you know this person is guilty" and "what happens if you're wrong". I answered that in this case the culprit has been positively identified, and so there is no question. If the culprit has not been positively identified then it would be unwise and unfair to kill a suspect.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 07:06 am
@hue-man,
When a person, lets say a man, kills and violates a child I would feel that the only way to equate suffering of the child and his/her family with the killers is to not end his life instantly but to make the killer suffer for years and years and years and I would look into his eyes to see it and would I feel pity? I doubt it.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 07:15 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;85983 wrote:
When a person, lets say a man, kills and violates a child I would feel that the only way to equate suffering of the child and his/her family with the killers is to not end his life instantly but to make the killer suffer for years and years and years and I would look into his eyes to see it and would I feel pity? I doubt it.


I've heard this before; about allowing the culprit to live so that he can suffer in misery for the rest of his life. However, plenty of people would rather live in jail for the rest of their lives than die, and that's due to the strong animal will to live.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 07:21 am
@hue-man,
Who said prison? Hmmph I don't thinks so! I wouldn't make it easy for them, I've said this before too, 'til they're begging to be put out of their misery and then I'd say sorry not today! Back into the pit of fire with you! Hahahaha

---------- Post added 08-27-2009 at 08:36 AM ----------

I think that preventing these heinous acts in the first place is where a solution is found but that's another subject.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 08:01 pm
@Mnemosyne phil,
Mnemosyne;85835 wrote:
Rationally, killing the man for killing your child is morally wrong. You can attach all the horrendous names you want to the man and make the child as sweet and innocent as you would like, but there is nothing in the universe that says:

1) It is wrong for the man to kill your child (even if he is a child rapist murderer).
2) The child is worth more than the adult.

To say otherwise is attaching and enforcing an irrational value on the situation. And none of the above changes after you add the apathy of others.


Which horrendous names where those? Was it murderer and rapist? Those terms are pretty unattractive, but that's not the point. Also, I never said that there was something in the universe that says it is morally wrong to do anything, and I never would seeing as I'm not a moral realist. I can use the same argument against your position that revenge is wrong, but you don't appear to be saying that morality makes objectively true statements that are features of nature or the external world. That would be a straw man argument.

Mnemosyne;85835 wrote:


I don't view these statements as being rhetorical at all. Would it be merely rhetorical if I said that I was justified for killing a murderer who tried to kill me in self-defense? I don't think so. It's merely adding circumstance to the situation.

In regards to the rationality involved in moral decision making, you may have a point there. Killing the man could land me in jail for vigilantism, and vigilantism is not conducive to society.

Mnemosyne;85835 wrote:
What I take your argument to say:

A kills B. C kills A for killing B. And we say B is completely innocent of everything.

A kills B: B is an innocent victim
C kills A: A is a guilty victim

The difference of the (non)innocence of the victim is where, I take your argument to lay.

However, there is still the matter of the (non)innocence of the killer.

A kills B: A is guilty of killing B
C kills A: C is guilty of killing A

The lack of difference between the non-innocence of the killers was where my argument lay.

By your definition of revenge (equal return for an injustice done), the injustice in this instance was killing (forcibly taking the life of someone against their will) of an innocent B. For sake of argument, we will say B did not wish to die. But now we see that the C killing A may be a completely different crime(?). The crime(?) that C is committing is killing (forcibly taking the life of someone against their will) of a guilty victim A. For sake of argument, we will say A did not wish to die. So,

Let's grant to you that C killing A is an equal return for A's crime of killing innocent B.
What about C's crime(?) of killing guilty A?
Is there a just return awaiting C?
Or is C morally off the hook?

And it is here where now the answer to the question of whether revenge is morally justified is not the answer you seek, but whether corporal punishment is morally justified.


How is the killer innocent when he is intentionally killing an innocent person? The child does not kill innocent people; the child is not a murderer, and that is what he is innocent of being. The child also did nothing to warrant his own murder, therefore the child is innocent in this situation.

In regards to the crime committed by 'C', what is criminal is not synonymous with what is immoral.

This question does involve corporal punishment, but its motivation is still vengeful.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 27 Aug, 2009 08:34 pm
@Mnemosyne phil,
---------- Post added 08-27-2009 at 09:37 PM ----------

Mnemosyne;85835 wrote:
but there is nothing in the universe that says:
1) It is wrong for the man to kill your child (even if he is a child rapist murderer).

I disagree, I say it's wrong and so does the child and so does his/her parents.

Mnemosyne;85835 wrote:
2) The child is worth more than the adult.
Irrelevant, it's still wrong to kill the child.

Mnemosyne;85835 wrote:
Or is C morally off the hook?
To whose standards of morals is he answering to? If it's his own and he's killed A then I would presume that he is, ie, he doesn't care, then who else is left?
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 08:17 am
@hue-man,
And there are lots of places in the universe where it says it's wrong to kill and rape a child, for a start it's against the law so you'll find it written in the childrens act amongst many things and also it say's it's wrong in the Bible. Thanks.
 
Mnemosyne phil
 
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 06:10 pm
@hue-man,
To Hue-man:

"Which horrendous names where those? Was it murderer and rapist? Those terms are pretty unattractive, but that's not the point."

If they are not the point or, at least, part of the point, why did you bring them up?

"I don't view these statements as being rhetorical at all. Would it be merely rhetorical if I said that I was justified for killing a murderer who tried to kill me in self-defense? I don't think so. It's merely adding circumstance to the situation.""How is the killer innocent when he is intentionally killing an innocent person? The child does not kill innocent people; the child is not a murderer, and that is what he is innocent of being. The child also did nothing to warrant his own murder, therefore the child is innocent in this situation."

Below I have provided, for you, a library of terms and I ask, then, that you re-read the logic I have provided:

A=The man that killed your child.
B=Your child.
C=You.

In regards to the crime committed by 'C', what is criminal is not synonymous with what is immoral."

That depends on what your definition of 'criminal' and 'immoral' is. So you must provide definitions for me, otherwise I cannot address this properly. Please note: I placed a '(?)' after the word 'crime', in every place that I used it, in the last half of my post.

"Also, I never said that there was something in the universe that says it is morally wrong to do anything, and I never would seeing as I'm not a moral realist." [/I]

I understand that you did not say that, but it had appeared implied by you. That is my mistake. My apologies.

"I can use the same argument against your position that revenge is wrong, but you don't appear to be saying that morality makes objectively true statements that are features of nature or the external world."

Yes, you, the child, his/her parents, human laws and the, perhaps, the Bible (depends on the passages you are looking at) are things in the universe that say that it is wrong to kill the child. But, what I meant was 'there is nothing in the universe that makes killing the child wrong in truth'. I mean that you can say that it is wrong, but that does not make it true. In fact, we are looking at a direct illustration of this. I had said that there is nothing wrong with it and you said that there is. Both cannot be true. Additionally, I can think of a historical instance where infanticide was, at times, the best thing to do for the sake of everyone involved. My apologies for my poor choice in wording.

Originally Posted by Myself: 2) The child is worth more than the adult.

"Irrelevant, it's still wrong to kill the child." "To whose standards of morals is he answering to? If it's his own and he's killed A then I would presume that he is, ie, he doesn't care, then who else is left?"

That is part of what I am asking Hue-man. This is better directed toward him (her?).
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 06:52 pm
@Mnemosyne phil,
Mnemosyne;86368 wrote:

Yes, you, the child, his/her parents, human laws and the, perhaps, the Bible (depends on the passages you are looking at) are things in the universe that say that it is wrong to kill the child. But, what I meant was 'there is nothing in the universe that makes killing the child wrong in truth'.

Am I not part of the universe?

Mnemosyne;86368 wrote:

I mean that you can say that it is wrong, but that does not make it true.

Why not? Why doesn't it make it true? And just because I say it's true does not necessarily mean it isn't true either.

Mnemosyne;86368 wrote:

In fact, we are looking at a direct illustration of this. I had said that there is nothing wrong with it and you said that there is. Both cannot be true.

Which means in this case only one can be true and I'll bet you I know which one, it's common sense that raping and killing a child is wrong in this case.


Mnemosyne;86368 wrote:
Originally Posted by Myself: 2) The child is worth more than the adult.

What I meant was is that you're unnecessarily placing more importance on a child's life because it cannot protect itself, (neither can an adult woman but that's besides the point), that maybe so but it is irrelevant because it is wrong to kill anyway regardless whether it's an innocent child or not so the punishment/justice is the same.

Mnemosyne;86368 wrote:

That is part of what I am asking Hue-man. This is better directed toward him (her?).
Shame, I was really interested in your answer.
 
 

 
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