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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Theories of Justice

I think the 1993 Declaration on Great Apes will come to be seen as a milestone document.  Technology will make vegetarianism moot within a couple of centuries, so the position for which I await history's indictment is the death penalty.  People in the future will consider it barbaric, but I think it's even more barbaric that, for example, a harmless 45-year-old Leslie Van Houten was being punished for the crimes of a 20-year-old Van Houten who should have been executed before her 25th birthday.

Rothbardian restitution-only checkbook justice will always be inadequate as long as people have differing levels of wealth and (especially) earning power.  Thus the only alternative to the barbaric death penalty and barbarically long incarceration is more intense punishment over a shorter sentence.  Symmetric eye-for-an-eye punishment has some of the same problems of restitution-only justice, in that the same "sentence" can have very different effects on different perps, when it even applies at all.  (The blind would have a license to eye-gouge, for example.)  So instead of eye-for-an-eye or any (other) kind of torture, we should consider total shunning.  A convicted aggressor would during his sentence be denied all interaction with other humans, except for the minimum communication with counsel that is consistent with due process.  Otherwise, there would be no seeing a human face and no hearing a human voice, whether live or recorded or transcribed.  Reading of educational texts should probably be allowed, both for rehabilitative purposes and to prevent the onset of complete insanity.  I'd need to read about people who've experienced such isolation, and I'd have to try it myself for a week or so before I'd ever exercise any authority to inflict it on others.