Social Question

Jellie's avatar

Why shouldn't it be, or isn't it, an eye for an eye?

Asked by Jellie (6489points) August 25th, 2011

So why isn’t this how we handle punishment?

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21 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. Isn’t that the saying?

Hibernate's avatar

Not blind but a bunch of people becoming one eyed persons.

Not to mention another fact. You are not able to keep all the rules without breaking one. And when you do a bad deed you get punished. You wouldn’t want to have people ready to jump you because of your mistake.

RareDenver's avatar

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Or we need to move past notion that vengeance is a legitimate form of punishment.

Kardamom's avatar

Because doing something crappy and mean and destructive to punish someone who has done something crappy and mean and destructive simply makes every thing worse and fixes nothing.

Some people deserve horrible punishments, but society cannot continue, order cannot be maintained and life cannot be made better if we just keep doing the exact same yucky things to bad people who have caused pain and mayhem. Lock them up so that they can’t continue to do damage and put them to work so that they don’t go mad or simply sit there and rot. But don’t give them luxuries or fun things to do, or un-limited access to communication. That would be an insult to those of us who have not caused harm.

Then try to find the root causes of why these folks have caused trouble and try to fix those situations so that other folks won’t be lead or tempted or forced to do bad and hurtful things.

IMO poverty, abuse, and mental illness cause most of our problems in society. Selfishness and greed cause another, smaller amount, of the problems. If you can eliminate most of the poverty, abusive situations and treat mentally ill people in a compassionate and cared-for situation, then teach people to be kind and compassionate, you eliminate most of society’s problems. Not all, but most.

Jellie's avatar

I’m playing devil’s advocate here but @Hibernate valid point but your eye wouldn’t be taken off if you bumped into someone by mistake. It requires mens rea to commit a crime which a person making a mistake wouldn’t have.

@RareDenver in your opinion punishment should only be rehabilatative and not retributive?

My reasons for being against it are that one, it’s not practical to mete out punishment individually and particular to each person’s crime. Second, you lose member of society who could potentially contribute in some way or form (once out of prison) and thirdly that you end up with a bunch of possibly handicapped people that the state might have to end up providing for with tax payer money.

Jellie's avatar

@Kardamom yours is an excellently reasoned answer.

lillycoyote's avatar

Is it and should it all be about punishment? There is justice and rehabilitation to consider. Mitigating circumstances… it’s complicated.

Jellie's avatar

@lillycoyote very valid points.. how would you punish someone who was only partially responsible (along with an accomplice) for another’s death and had he been acting alone the victim wouldn’t have died. Good good. Love some good creative reasoning!

raven860's avatar

When you reciprocate their actions you fall to their level and commit a heinous act yourself. In the eyes of an observer, your no better or any less deserving than than the person who initially harmed you.

lillycoyote's avatar

@sarahhhhh Like I said, it’s not all about punishment. People should be held responsible for what they do and society has a right and an obligation to protect itself and innocents who might be harmed by someone else. How would I “punish” the person in your scenario? I can’t say without more detail.

Jellie's avatar

@raven860 but the motives are different. I would definitely hurt someone posing a threat to me or my family.. but that is very different from me hurting someone to steal their wallet or just for the sake of it. Similarly, punishing the criminal in the same manner as his crime is not meaningless voilence (in the same way as crime, it is meaningless for other reasons) it is with the purpose of justice.

Jellie's avatar

@lillycoyote I wasn’t actually asking that question about how you would punish someone like that, I was just wondering out loud :P
I meant to say that I agree with your earlier comment and appreciated that you came up with a thought provoking answer other than saying “just because its bad” or “becasue it makes the whole world blind.”

Blackberry's avatar

This is what justice is supposed to do, essentially.

ucme's avatar

Because two wrongs don’t make a right, as granny used to repeat over & over again.

iphigeneia's avatar

As @ucme‘s granny used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right. Vengeance does not do anything to solve the problem, it just causes more pain, and gives you a bunch of people who believe they have the right to dispense justice with their own hands.

filmfann's avatar

It is no longer an eye for an eye, but turn the other cheek. It isn’t about punishment, it’s about compassion.

DrBill's avatar

Matthew 5:38 you have heard an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth, but I tell you, do not resist an evil person, if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also

- Jesus

Hibernate's avatar

@sarahhhhh I was referring to situations where you didn’t offer your seat in the bus to a pregnant woman. Some consider than to be very disrespectful. There are others and I’ll mention some:
– you play with a kid and a ball and the ball breaks a window and pieces of glass takes someone’s eyesight or pieces remain on the floor and while he’s leaning he looses a leg because of the broken glass.
– you play with your kid [a baby around 2–3 years] and he goes to someone’s dog to pet it. The dog bites one arm from your kid.
– you walk around and some lady watering her plants [who are hanging in front of her window drops either the bottle or a plant in your head.

I know these are all accidents but in a world where “an eye for an eye” would be the top rule you wouldn’t have time to explain what happened. It’s like “shoot first and ask questions later”.
May sound ridiculous but there’s no not guilty till proven anything else. Anyone from the above examples could say they want to do the same thing to the one who did it to them.

RareDenver's avatar

@sarahhhhh I think it should be a mixture of punitive and rehabilitative (where it can be) and should try to not be overtly retributive.

Keep_on_running's avatar

Uh…because, we’d all uh…die pretty much.

raven860's avatar


An eye for an eye would be a good way to deter crime if criminals got scared because of it. Otherwise we would become a very violent society. I think our current laws aim to make our society a better and a more civilized place.

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