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Stay the Hand of Vengeance

Foreign Policy:

“All men [sic] by nature desire to know,” writes Aristotle in the opening of his work,¬†Metaphysics, and when we’re faced with evil on the scale of 9/11 or the Boston bombing, what we want to know most of all is, “Who did this and why?” On the heels of these intellectual questions comes a more primal desire: revenge. We want to inflict the worst possible damage on those who would do us harm. The thinking — if you can call it that — goes something like this: “You hurt me. Now I’m going to hurt you even more.”

There are several ethical problems with this line of reasoning. As the Pioneer Hotel case illustrates, a hot-blooded response to tragedy may result in punishing someone who had nothing to do with the crime. Meting out justice requires a cold, dispassionate view of the facts, and when you’re filled with rage, it’s virtually impossible to maintain the critical distance you need to see the world as it really is.

Read on.

Categories: Politics.

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