Morality and Punishment of Criminals Essay

987 Words 4 Pages
Morality and Punishment of Criminals


British law states that it is he who bares responsibility for the transgression committed who must be reprimanded. However, there is much controversy as to where responsibility for moral action lies, or indeed, whether anyone can be held accountable. As J. L. Mackie suggests, "an agent is responsible for all and only his intentional actions." Thus for the punishment of criminals to be considered righteous, belief in human free will is a necessity. Whilst many philosophers hold that human free will is a reality, some maintain that our self - control is in fact an illusion, with our actions being controlled by device beyond our own deception. If the latter
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Therefore, those inducing punishment on individuals do not make an ethical decision to do so, but rather carry out a pre - determined action under the illusion of having free will. It is irrational to talk of our 'rights.'

In a sense sociological and psychological studies support the hard deterministic view by investigating the subconscious and looking for motivations for our actions. However, such studies may be rejected as "unscientific" and subsequently unreliable. They certainly provide little persuasive evidence in favour of determinism. Theistic determinists, such as J. Edwards, hold that God is the ultimate cause who determines all human actions, citing the Bible as proof. There are many references made in the New Testament which may appear to validate determinism, including the prediction of Jesus' death:

'They will condemn him to death…' (Matthew 20:18)

However, the text is clearly open to interpretation. Theistic indeterminists would view the above passage, for example, as evidence of God's omniscience, not pre - determination. In contrary to the theistic determinist view, the Bible seems to suggest that humans have free will, for the text clearly gives guidance as to how to live a life which is pleasing to God. Should the hard deterministic theory be correct, then what is the purpose of the Ten Commandments? - Humans would

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