as per our discussion of the issue of death penalty (and anton's characterization as a form of revenge). take my brief response here to a complex issue as only hinting at the danger or trivializing "pro" or "con" arguments with quick, lapidary statements.
it all begins with xunzi's advice for government:
If a man comes forward in good faith, treat him according to ritual; if he comes forward in bad faith, meet him with punishment. In this way the two categories will be clearly distinguished, worthy and unworthy men will not be thrown together, and right and wrong will not be confused.anton asked if xunzi's philosophy authorizes the state to kill as a form of punishment. i said "yes," but it was a tentative assertion that needs justification. this is a legal & political issue. death penalty is as old as the existence of the state. the analysis of right and wrong the political/legal realm is a bit different from the ethical/moral realm. the latter concerns selves and their actions, the former comprises institutions & rules (legislations).
¿what sort of punishment will apply in the case of a murderer who killed his wife and child? (a typical, everyday, murder case).
anton's maximum allowed penalty for the criminal's transgression is life in prison without the possibility of parole. let's call it abolitionist lemma:
no matter the degree of the murder, the state cannot kill the murderer.
let's set aside the political aspect: if this was a rule, the state would adopt it as an enactment of consensus? (see the diagram above).
of course, there is the much debated issue of "deterrence." granted, capital punishment may not stop capital crimes. but xunzi is not going for a consequentialist argument here. he would be arguing in favor of Zhong-Yong (proper balance, measure).
the abolitionist's lemma transgresses the very limit it purports defends.
if life was sacrosant, the criminal shouldn't be spared the limit he already trespassed twice.
xunzi would defend justice in the sense of balance or proportionality. there are degrees of severity of punishment for different degrees in mens rea. for example, the 8th amendment proportionality principle, i.e., a minor who commits murder cannot be killed by the state. why? if the deterrent value of capital punishment rests on the assumption that "we are rational beings who think before we act, and then base our actions on a careful calculation of the gains and losses involved," then a teenage offender is unlikely to make this kind of cost-benefit analysis.
adults are a different story and so, the charge of "revenge" comes in.
what's revenge? the infliction of punishment "in return", retaliation. the retaliation part of revenge may seem akin to that of justice, but there is a big difference. it's clear that not all forms of retaliation are fair.
3- revenge cannot possibly cast away these two: spite and vindictiveness & justice cannot be fair and vindictive, it cannot administer fairness our of spite. what makes for the difference is proper measure.