RE: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2006 12:19:16 +1100

Brent Meeker writes:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >
> > Peter,
> >
> > We can discuss any subject rationally if we agree on axioms, but the problem is that
> > in matters of value, those axioms are ultimately arbitrary. I believe that capital
> > punishment is wrong; not because it is not a good deterrent, or because it is irreversible
> > if a mistake is made, but just because it's bad, evil. Other people do not agree with me.
> > I can't convince them, they can't convince me, because we disagree on an axiom. If
> > someone could show me that violent crime has consistently decreased in places where
> > capital punishment has been introduced, and further demonstrated a causative link, then
> > I might have to concede that I was wrong about my facts, but I would not change my mind
> > about capital punishment being wrong, because in the *final* analysis every ethical and
> > aesthetic belief has no logical or empirical justification.
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> ...
> That's consistent with my view that personal values that are incorrigble. You hold an execution to have a very negative value. So negative that you can't imagine any countervailing values. But this may be a failure of imagination. Suppose it were shown that execution of a very few persons convicted of multiple torture/murders virtually eliminated that crime. Or it would stop genocide, as in Darfur, Rawanda, Somalia,...
> Or more generally, even though each value judgement in isolation is subjective and has no logical or empirical justification, one may argue for or against actions based on these values by showing conflicts between values. This is implicitly the argument society presents to one contemplating a crime - you want to steal that car, but you don't want to go to jail.
We could look at a particular incident where capital punishment was proposed, let's say
for murder. Everyone might agree on the facts of the crime and the effects of executing
the perpetrator, but still strongly disagree about whether it is right or wrong. So of course
the capital punishment debate does involve rational discussion and maybe some people will
switch sides if appropriate evidence is presented, but in the end you will have a situation
where there is just disagreement on an axiom.
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Thu Dec 14 2006 - 20:19:35 PST

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