Deontological Punishment

In a previous post I discussed Consequential Punishment that is open clemency and vindication.  In contrast, Deontological Punishment concerns excoriation and penalization that is given for its own sake, and has no desire to reform the one being punished. It is a vendetta justice open to vengeance. It is payback justice where the person will pay a price for their behavior. In Dante’s worldview there is no problem with punishing and condemning those considered irredeemable to Hell. In Dante’s worldview it is about what the person has done.  This punishment is admonishment that is viewed as an ‘eye for an eye,”  “tooth for a tooth,” “hand for hand,” and “foot for foot.” It is jailbird punishment proposed by those believing in retribution and imprisonment in cells of isolation —->  that is, lock-up and isolate the person. In a deontological incarceration view of punishment a lex talionis law prevails —-> the law of retaliation. The law of retaliation is one of repentance, recrimination, and repayment. The offender will pay a price for the evil they have done in this world. The law of retaliation is punitive justice. However, I do find a disturbing irony with the law of retaliation, for it appears that those who support deontological punishment often have standards for those being judged and punished higher than standards for their own behaviors.

Advocates for deontological punishment would be well-informed to listen to Friedrich Nietzsche saying, “he who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” (1886) I suggest to those who seek revenge it is probably wise to listen to Talleyrand when he said, “la vengeance est un mets l’on doit manger froud,” or “revenge is a dish that should be eaten cold.” That is, maybe it is a wise idea to forestall censure, condemnation, retaliation, and reprisal until one has had a chance to cool off. If Abraham Lincoln was upset with someone he often wrote an abrasive “hot letter” and put into words what he was angry about. And, after he substantially cooled down, in most cases President Lincoln never sent the letter. Feel free to comment.




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