The Instigator
valasca146
Con (against)
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The Contender
JOhn_D.5ilver
Pro (for)
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Rehabilitation ought to valued over Retribution in the US criminal justice system

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/10/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,044 times Debate No: 31139
Debate Rounds (3)
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valasca146

Con

I negate the resolution. Smith defines rehabilitation: "Although rehabilitation is often considered a type of punishment for criminal offenders, its objectives are therapeutic rather than punitive. While some theories of punishment claim that criminals deserve to suffer for their crimes, the rehabilitative ideal views criminal behavior more like a disease that should be treated with scientific methods available to cure[d] the offender."
Retribution is "The idea that offenders should be punished for committing crimes when they freely violate existing social rules."(Gabremichael)

Ought is defined as a moral obligation (Merriam Webster) so I value morality. To value is to regard or esteem highly (Dictionary.com). Valuing is not synonymous with acting for instance I may value a clean kitchen, but that doesn"t mean I"ll do the dishes. The resolution questions what we ought to value, so the aff must prove that the principle of rehabilitation is better than the principle of retribution. Because the resolutional actor is the criminal justice system, any moral theory must account for unique obligations of government rather than individuals. And because, the US criminal justice system encompasses individuals who sacrifice certain liberties in exchange for protection, the US is obligated towards a system of equal benefits and burdens, Richard Dagger explains:
Richard Dagger, "Playing Fair With Punishment," Ethics, Vol. 103, No. 3 (Apr., 1993), pp. 473-488
"As it applies to punishment, the principle of fair play begins with a conception of society as a cooperative endeavor secured by coercion. To think of society in this way is to recognize that the individuals who compose a society enjoy a number of benefits available only because of the cooperation of their fellows. The social order enables us to work together for common purposes and to pursue in peace our private interests. But we can do these things only when others, through their cooperation, help to maintain this order. This has two important implications. The first is that [Thus,] rules or conventions of some sort become necessary, for we need to know what the required acts of cooperation are. The second is that those who enjoy the benefits of society owe their own cooperation to the other members of society. Because the cooperation of others makes these benefits available to me, fairness demands that I help provide these benefits for them by cooperating in turn. When other things are equal, then, I owe it to the others to obey the rules; if I fail to do so, I take unfair advantage of them."
In order to do this, we cannot arbitrarily take the fruits of certain people"s labor and redistribute them to others, Edward Feser notes:
Edward Feser, "Robert Nozick," IEP, Pasadena City College, May 2003
"If individuals are inviolable ends-in-themselves (as Kant describes them) and self-owners, it follows, Nozick says, that they have certain rights, in particular (and here again following Locke) rights to their lives, liberty, and the fruits of their labor. To own something, after all, just is to have a right to it, or, more accurately, to possess the bundle of rights " rights to possess something, to dispose of it, to determine what may be done with it, etc. " that constitute ownership; and thus to own oneself is to have such rights to the various elements that make up one"s self. These rights function, Nozick says, as side-constraints on the actions of others; they set limits on how others may, morally speaking, treat a person. So, for example, since you own yourself, and thus have a right to yourself, others are constrained morally not to kill or maim you (since this would involve destroying or damaging your property), or to kidnap you or forcibly remove one of your bodily organs for transplantation in someone else (since this would involve stealing your property). They are also constrained not to force you against your will to work for another"s purposes, even if those purposes are good ones. For if you own yourself, it follows that you have a right to determine whether and how you will use your self-owned body and its powers, e.g. either to work or to refrain from working."
Thus my value criterion is consistency with equal benefits and burdens of society without infringing on people"s self- ownership. Note that this value criterion is a side constraint - whatever value criterion my opponent advocates, I don't necessarily disagree, I simply place my criterion as a side constraint that still must be upheld.
Contention1: Only retribution, punitively dealing with criminals, can restore equilibrium. This is because when I commit a crime, I place myself at an advantage. For instance, if I steal your car, I"m advantaged and you"re disadvantaged because I stole and will enjoy the fruits of your labor whereas you will not. The way to counter an advantage is a disadvantage, i.e. jail, which punishes the offender and restores balance for the original unfair inequality. Dagger 2 explains the concept:
Richard Dagger, "Playing Fair With Punishment," Ethics, Vol. 103, No. 3 (Apr., 1993), pp. 473-488
"Punishment is justified, ceteris paribus, because the persons who disobey the law fail to meet their obligations to the other members of society. In this sense every crime is a crime of unfairness, whatever else it may be. Criminals act unfairly when they take advantage of the opportunities the legal order affords them without contributing to the preservation of that order. In doing so, they upset[ing] the balance between benefits and burdens at the heart of the notion of justice. Justice requires that this balance be restored, and this can only be achieved through punishment or pardon. As Herbert Morris has argued, "A person who violates the rules has something others have-the benefits of the system-but by renouncing what others have assumed, the burdens of self-restraint, he has acquired an unfair advantage. [because] Matters are not even until this advantage is in some way erased.... [H]e owes something to others, for he has something that does not rightfully belong to him. Justice-that is, punishing such individuals-restores the equilibrium of benefits and burden by tak[es] from the individual what he owes, that is, exacting the debt."
Rehabilitation can never restore balance because as my definition from Smith notes, its therapeutic, it tries to help people by fixing their disorder. But you don"t rectify a criminal advantage by helping the criminal, you need to disadvantage them in some way. Only retributive measures like jail, disadvantage them. Contention 2: Rehabilitation arbitrarily advantages the few over the majority. Any legitimate government function serves all citizens, like Fire Departments or Police departments, rather than prioritizing a few, but according to the US department of justice, only 6.6% of all people get incarcerated at some point during their life time " a clear and obvious minority (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov...). Rehab immorally prioritizes this minority. Even if there is some sort of greater good coming out or Rehabilitation, the government can"t distribute resources to benefit a few. It"s immoral to burden society with the education, drugs, and therapy of a small minority of people.

Thus, you negate.
JOhn_D.5ilver

Pro

First I will present my thoughts on the matter. Let there be further debate on this issue in the remaining rounds. I will come from the standpoint of subconsciousness.

The reason for these crimes resides in the pre-determine setting of our environment. May it beforehand be created or a result that flows accidentally. The reason for its existence is unknown from birth. Everything after that is taught or subconsciously taken. This information within the brain will be given meaning by the act or the surrounding emotions that labels it. Within that the character will be formed over time and at a certain point firmly positioned within the remaining years hence adulthood. Leading to the fact that I hereby defend the point of a lack in consciousness and choice. The setting of these human beings are set in motion to react in certain environments. For example, the law that has been placed, but still broken under circumstances of hunger. Whereas this individual might not even want to steal, but must provide for his starving family. Within that the force of this constant external influence, present at that moment in time will lead to a pre-determent effect by cause. By it and uncontrollable human responds to it therefore not within control. Unconscious behavior and in reality guilty is not the variable (the individual) but the constant at that point (the environment, human settings). It relinquishes any form of conscious act and proven to be not guilty.

Basically they can't help doing it. Just like you have habits you might find hard to break the same goes for these people. The same force that binds your habits binds theirs. Only difference is where that force is applied. By that I state that its not their fault and they should be helped instead of punished for something that is not within their control at that moment. Realise that even if you consciously noticed what you are doing does not mean you have the means to stop it.

Fine to use other sources, whatever you find most interesting. I will ask of you to try and use your own words in the matter. I haven't read the entire text, so my apology if somewhere in there you did pose your own opinion.
Debate Round No. 1
valasca146

Con

Thanks for accepting my challenge.


"First I will present my thoughts on the matter. Let there be further debate on this issue in the remaining rounds. I will come from the standpoint of subconsciousness."


Alright.

"The reason for these crimes resides in the pre-determine setting of our environment. May it beforehand be created or a result that flows accidentally. The reason for its existence is unknown from birth. Everything after that is taught or subconsciously taken. This information within the brain will be given meaning by the act or the surrounding emotions that labels it. Within that the character will be formed over time and at a certain point firmly positioned within the remaining years hence adulthood. Leading to the fact that I hereby defend the point of a lack in consciousness and choice. The setting of these human beings are set in motion to react in certain environments. For example, the law that has been placed, but still broken under circumstances of hunger. Whereas this individual might not even want to steal, but must provide for his starving family. Within that the force of this constant external influence, present at that moment in time will lead to a pre-determent effect by cause. By it and uncontrollable human responds to it therefore not within control. Unconscious behavior and in reality guilty is not the variable (the individual) but the constant at that point (the environment, human settings). It relinquishes any form of conscious act and proven to be not guilty.
Basically they can't help doing it. Just like you have habits you might find hard to break the same goes for these people. The same force that binds your habits binds theirs. Only difference is where that force is applied. By that I state that its not their fault and they should be helped instead of punished for something that is not within their control at that moment. Realise that even if you consciously noticed what you are doing does not mean you have the means to stop it."

I'm going to layer arguments against this because my opponent makes several claims, he talks about determinism (pre-determined variables), then about culpability (conscious action), then about breaking the law for good reason (stealing to save your family)
Firstly, if my opponent makes a deterministic argument, then it is false, because determinism is a) incompatible with moral discussion given that morality requires choice and b) determinism is scientifically false. Ask any quantum phycisist, Einstein and Newton sought a formula to deterministically predict everything, but quantum mechanics shows that there's no definitive way to see the outcome of an event given the initial circumstances.
Onto culpability! Firstly, because humans still make choices, they are always at least partially culpable. There is no human being that has absolutely no control over his own body. Secondly, people choose to enter bad habits. Even if I'm born into a certain situation, I still have choices. And most importantly - Are all criminals not responsible? Some criminals, psycopaths, commit crime for no reason at all, and I believe it is 1 in 5 criminals that is a psychopath (according to the wikipedia entry... not the best source, but the references at the bottom of the page do suffice). Some criminals commit crime not because they need to feed their starving family but simply because they want goods but not work. Of course, there will be some criminals, like criminals with severe mental disorders, who are not at fault for their crimes, but severely mentally ill people are not the majority of the people in the criminal justice system. Therefore, even by my opponents argument, you value Rehabilitation under Retribution because it's still going to be used less prevalantly.
This is the largest problem with culpability arguments - How do I quantify culpability? I have three options - Rehabilitate all prisoners, Rehabilitate some, or Quantify culpability and then draw a line whereupon that would determine if someone would be rehabilitated or punished retributively. It's unquantifiable and therefore we rehabilitate all, or none. So, because as I pointed out, only a few people have extreme enough cases to be nearly totally unculpable, you punish in most cases.
Finally, onto stealing to save your family from starvation. This is closely linked to culpability. Firstly, stealing obviously wasn't the only option. The man could ask for help from friends or relatives, go to charity organizations, get a job, etc. Also, he was in that situation as a result of his choices. No matter how bad the circumstances were, he still had choices to make, and he evidently made the wrong ones. So disregard this argument.

"Fine to use other sources, whatever you find most interesting. I will ask of you to try and use your own words in the matter. I haven't read the entire text, so my apology if somewhere in there you did pose your own opinion."

I cite other sources when other people are smarter than me and thus explain a philosophical principle better than I do (like the Nozick card), or if I'm presenting some statistical evidence (like the BJS statistic).
But the case as a whole is mostly my words, or at least my ideas stringing citations together.

Now onto why we should vote Con/Neg/against the resolution here.

1) My opponent provides no weighing mechanism to determine how the government ought to act - So, we need to fulfill my requirement of the government equally treating people because people are equal. Thus,
a)People are equal and unfair advantages need to be rectified - with punishment, not therapeutic aid (C 1)
b) The government has to benefit and burden people equally because all people are equal. That is, government institutions help everyone - everyone has the opportunity to go to public schools, the police and fire departments protect everyone, etc., thus they are legitimate. However, rehabilitation unfairly provides services to this minority of 6.6% of the people and places the burden of providing treatment onto all the taxpaying, law-abiding citizens in society. (Contention 2)
Which should be sufficient for a neg vote
2) Hard determinism is incorrect. Even if we do adopt some deterministic principles, we only rehabilitate in the few cases where it's truly necessary - Severe mental disorders. Therefore, we still value retribution over rehabilitation.
JOhn_D.5ilver

Pro

Since my case rests upon determinism quite heavily I will start by explaining it further. Firstly, I will state that it is not possible yet to determine it nor might it be by humans in the future. The reason for it that there are too many things you need to take into account. By that there is no way you can know it all to predict the outcome of certain events. A lot or everything is pre-determined because like a computer, life is a summation of routes were this is one of them. Only difference might be that a computer is limited and the possibility within life is not. The fact that you are the person you are now is not because you have chosen to be. This is because even before you were born it was determined that you would be here. Also, with certain settings within your psychological frame work. Would I recreated an environment with pre-determine settings and situations. Knowing you entirely thus having all the information necessary. Your response to it can be exactly predicted. This simulates what happens in every day life and by that proving that the arguments of determinism and culpability you used are incorrect. Don't make the classical mistake in saying that Einstein said it so it must be true. In psychics truth will take form when it cannot be proven wrong and by that making it truth by default.

I hereby conclude that everything rests upon this because determinism proves that it is not they individuals fault and by that relinquishing the fact that they don't have free choice. For lack of it means not part in conscious participation and therefore not permissible in punishing them. I might not work within the us system now to rehabilitate all prisoners, but that does not mean it should be denied.

Also, I would like to add that just because you are in a minority does not mean the majority should have power to overthrow the wishes of that group. It states that the majority is ALWAYS right. Which includes the fact that by it they automatically are morally speaking justified in exercising that power, which is not the case. For the obvious what if scenario whereas the majority wants to do something morally wrong.

This debate wasn"t about how they ought to act, but if rehabilitation should be valued over retribution within the US criminal justice system. By determinism all these prisoners are not free in making choices thus in law and morality not up for retribution.
Debate Round No. 2
valasca146

Con

"Since my case rests upon determinism quite heavily I will start by explaining it further. Firstly, I will state that it is not possible yet to determine it nor might it be by humans in the future. The reason for it that there are too many things you need to take into account. By that there is no way you can know it all to predict the outcome of certain events. A lot or everything is pre-determined because like a computer, life is a summation of routes were this is one of them. Only difference might be that a computer is limited and the possibility within life is not. The fact that you are the person you are now is not because you have chosen to be. This is because even before you were born it was determined that you would be here. Also, with certain settings within your psychological frame work. Would I recreated an environment with pre-determine settings and situations. Knowing you entirely thus having all the information necessary. Your response to it can be exactly predicted. This simulates what happens in every day life and by that proving that the arguments of determinism and culpability you used are incorrect. Don't make the classical mistake in saying that Einstein said it so it must be true. In psychics truth will take form when it cannot be proven wrong and by that making it truth by default.

I hereby conclude that everything rests upon this because determinism proves that it is not they individuals fault and by that relinquishing the fact that they don't have free choice. For lack of it means not part in conscious participation and therefore not permissible in punishing them. I might not work within the us system now to rehabilitate all prisoners, but that does not mean it should be denied.

I'll start by attacking determinism. If everything is predetermined, then we shouldn't even concern ourselves with what the state ought to do, because what it will do is already predetermined. The debate is pointless if determinism is true. Even from a simple scientific perspective, nothing is predetermined. Look up Schrodinger's cat, anything to do with Quantum physics. Everything is just a probability wave.

You are TOTALLY wrong. I didn't say that because Einstein said it, it must be true. I'm saying Einstein and Newton were WRONG. Read my arguments thorougly so that you don't misconstrue them. Quantum Physics works, and it shows that nothing is predetermined even if you are omniscient - because its all just chance. And not flipping a coin or rolling a dice chance - pure randomness, with no variables affecting it.

Also, I would like to add that just because you are in a minority does not mean the majority should have power to overthrow the wishes of that group. It states that the majority is ALWAYS right. Which includes the fact that by it they automatically are morally speaking justified in exercising that power, which is not the case. For the obvious what if scenario whereas the majority wants to do something morally wrong.

And I'm not saying the majority overthrows the rights of the minority. I'm saying it's unfair for the government to use the resources of 93% to prioritize and unfairly pay for the education and rehabilitation of 6.6%. If I wanted therapy, I'd have to pay for it... why not prisoners?

Lastly, my case isn't even false if determinism is true. Even if criminals aren't culpable, they still gain unfair advantage from crimes. Even if none of it is their fault, this is true. Thus, they need to punished to rectify their unfair advantage - retribution. You can't rectify an unfair advantage by helping someone by providing rehabilitation for them. And even if criminals aren't culpable, so what? Look to my second contention - Why is it taxpayer obligation to pay for their rehabilitation? It's unfair.

I urge a con/neg vote here for the following reasons:
1) Don't look to determinism because it's disproven by quantum mechanics. Therefore you can drop my opponents entire case and I win.
2) The government has to be fair, and benefit and burden people equally because people are equals. This hasn't been contested. Therefore it a) should rectify unfair advantages resulting from crime, with punishment and b) should not unfairly burden some people to unfairly benefit some other people.
3) Even if determinism is true, my case still stands. My case has two main arguments, neither of which rely on the criminal being culpable.
JOhn_D.5ilver

Pro

I have been postponing this response in order to think a way to bring it so that you would understand my standpoint clearly. I will probably not succeed. I thank my opponents for the interesting debate. Too bad there aren't enough rounds for you to exactly see what I am trying to say. Either way by your response I concluded you are not understanding certain aspects of the concept I am using. Perhaps for the term you have linked with my first stated arguments in which perhaps it is not linked with that term at all. I won't be looking it up so here a short meaning of my arguments. This sentence you posted 'If everything is predetermined, then we shouldn't even concern ourselves with what the state ought to do because what it will do is already predetermined'. That is mostly the indicator you personally don't understand the concept of what I am saying. That makes no sense at all you discard logic with this statement. We can't predict what is going to happen because we can't see everything. Pre-determine lies in knowing the necessary information and since all outcomes and possibilities is presence for the example I used with the computer it can change very easily and we just can’t see everything.

Example:

You are going to work and you see something in the sky for some reason you just noticed. Something is about to crash a few blocks from you. From this information you decided not to go that direction. A lot of different scenario's could have played out here. You didn't see it or you did, but ignored it. Now let I say you take the route of going the other direction. Why did you take that route? Out of all the possibility you took that one. Reason might be you don't want to die. Let I then say your life is terrible, you take the route of walking ahead where it is going to crash. Every route taken is not taken randomly there are personal reasons involved that forced you to take that particular route of going the other direction. May it be logical or not. Why are there different routes? All possibility exists and if you asked other person he probably does something else. With that the individual takes different routes in a similar situation. Now we should look why are there differences. It flows from the idea that everybody is different. Why? We are different psychologically for the information we have might be different or the same but given different meaning. Which are shaped by how we grew up the things we learned and the variance different factors that formed us. From that it was pre-determined you were going to take that specific route. Someone set this up from a far observing you and knowing everything about you. This person could predict (pre-determine) which route you were going to take. From that ultimately you are just following routes with the information you are holding at that moment in the process of so- called decision making.

Next is for you to state it can't be because quantum physics say so. How is that not the classical mistake of saying someone says this so it must be true. If you personally have read the prove and understand it. Only by that can you fully support this as a valid argument. Since you only make the reference to it, I also could statement say well person x said it and is recognized as a solid source so it is true. You mentioned unfairness. How is this not the case of exercising the majorities power over the minority? You say unfair for x percentage of people and by that the minority should automatically suffer. You at least got one thing right, but that wasn't so hard since I sort of tricked you into going that route by saying my entire case rests upon determinism. Apologies it was too easy. By it I wanted to prove that determinism somewhat proven as correct. You didn't choose to post that end statement if I wouldn't have said that. That little direction change made by me pushed you into that route. Just to give that extra feel personal touch if the example didn't work for you.

Finally at the end of this debate that you stated that even if it is pre-determined it doesn't matter. You come to this statement by referring to the unfairness for the majority. You look upon the chain reaction of the current system and within that state well it can't be realised so let this injustice go on. By pre-determine claim it is not a person's fault for being how he his, he just got unlucky. By that is unfair to punish him for that which was out of his control. For he was made that way. In closing to it all and taking inconsideration everything I said this not even a choice anymore, but a responsibility of the US criminal justice system which by name sounds so hypocritical to uphold its duty to rehabilitate instead of retribution.

Thanks again for this debate it showed I need some work on making my arguments more illuminating to others.

Debate Round No. 3
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