Compassionate Justice

An important question for philosophers in contemporary society is “How should societies respond to criminal behaviour?”

I do not believe we have free will.  Instead I believe that all events, including the actions of every individual, are under the direct control of God.  So God is responsible for criminal behaviour as well as law-abiding behaviour.  However, we do have the illusion of free will – in the human dimension we feel that we are making decisions even if in reality we aren’t in control.

Having the illusion of free will means that we can make decisions about how to create laws, how to uphold the law, and how to deal with criminals.  We can ask questions about what is logically the best way to create a good society.

It is a fact of human interaction that compassion tends to produce a compassionate response, whereas cruelty tends to create more cruelty.  We can see this in the character that children develop in response to the way they are treated by their parents and by other key influencers in their lives.

I believe, therefore, that our approach to justice should be compassionate, focusing always on education, therapy, and rehabilitation, rather than punishment.  Change in individuals is always possible because God can do anything, and I believe a compassionate response to criminal behavior is a better way of affecting positive change than repaying cruelty with more cruelty.

I believe that educating criminals using good reasoning and logic concerning moral action, rather than the deterrent of punishment, is the best way to produce law-abiding behavior in citizens and create progressive societies.  This belief does of course rely on the notion that all human beings are potentially reasonable, which I maintain.

2 comments

  1. I completely agree with you about our justice system. It seems completely focused on punishment and retribution (and profit for some) while it should instead be focused on rehabilitation. The system needs a serious overhaul.

    I also have a question for you about your conception of god. You believe that God is in charge of everything, we don’t have free will, when we think we are making a decision, it is really God doing it through us. So if I do something bad, that is God doing that bad thing really, because I’m not really in control of it. So my question is why would God have me do that bad thing? If God is in control of me why wouldn’t I just always do good things? Do you think of God as an always perfect good being? If so, how do you square those ideas, how do you answer the problem of evil? (I think we may have talked about this a little in the past, if I recall correctly your answer was along the lines of God being lonely or depressed so our negative actions are expressions of that, or something. Am I remembering that correctly at all?)

    1. Hi Hausdorff, thanks for your comment. It’s good to hear that you also believe in a justice system that focuses on rehabilitation.

      I believe that good and bad are subjective terms, so really it is impossible to say what is good and what is bad. But we can, however, talk about joy and suffering, which are much less subjective. You are right that I believe God is responsible for joy and suffering, and I believe we suffer because God suffers. My theory is that God wants to give human beings a taste of what ultimate reality is like for Him. You can read more about my views on this in my post entitled ‘The Reason Why We Suffer’.

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