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In making such decisions as whether to grant parole, should we care whether

In making such decisions as whether to grant parole, should we care whether convicts are "remorseful" for their crimes?

I think so. After all, even if remorse is not an absolute guarantee that the remorseful person won't repeat his/her wrongdoing, it is at least a positive indicator.

There are several theories of punishment and so the very idea of parole will vary under different theories. For example, in a retributive theory, the main question will be whether the criminal has "paid his/her debt to society," and it would seem that, strictly speaking, this could simply be a matter of doing the time in prison or whatever. On the other hand, I don't see why a retributivist couldn't think that part of the appropriate "price" includes feelings of remorse. In a social protection theory, the goal is simply to make sure the criminal is no longer a threat. It would seem that his or her feelings of remorse would be at least one useful indicator of whether he or she continued to pose a threat of the relevant sort. The same goes for a rehabilitative theory, where remorse might reasonably be taken as an indication off rehabilitation. For the theory that punishment is supposed to deter crime, however, it is not clear to me where the notion of parole would come in at all, in which case the question is moot under this theory--though I am probably missing something here.

Anyway, the point is that under most general theories of punishment--or at least those that see a role for the practice of parole--there is some reason to see remorse as a relevant and positive factor in favor of parole, though it would not be the only relevant consideration, I think.

I think so. After all, even if remorse is not an absolute guarantee that the remorseful person won't repeat his/her wrongdoing, it is at least a positive indicator. There are several theories of punishment and so the very idea of parole will vary under different theories. For example, in a retributive theory, the main question will be whether the criminal has "paid his/her debt to society," and it would seem that, strictly speaking, this could simply be a matter of doing the time in prison or whatever. On the other hand, I don't see why a retributivist couldn't think that part of the appropriate "price" includes feelings of remorse. In a social protection theory, the goal is simply to make sure the criminal is no longer a threat. It would seem that his or her feelings of remorse would be at least one useful indicator of whether he or she continued to pose a threat of the relevant sort. The same goes for a rehabilitative theory, where remorse might reasonably be taken as an indication off...

Should a parent report their own children to the police if they are aware that

Should a parent report their own children to the police if they are aware that the child has commited a criminal offence. Does the age of the child or the seriousness of the crime matter. Example should you report your child if you suspect they have commited shoplifting or should you only report them for serious crimes like armed ronbbery. What about other family relations such as your brother or cousin commiting criminal acts. Do you owe any loyalty to your family or is it more important to obey the law. Michael.

I don't think there is a hard-and-fast rule to give here. Do you call the cops when you see your kid litter? Of course not! Just make them pick it up and give them a good lecture about why that is unacceptable behavior. But if you see them commit murder? Well, yes, then it seems appropriate. If I caught one of my children shoplifting, I would try to come up with a way to make them repay the store--but I don't think I would be supportive if people at the store gave me an indication that they aggressively prosecute every case of shoplifting.

I think our responsibilities change in different relationships. I would also try to "correct" minor misdemeanors (like littering) when done by friends or more distant family members. The worse the crime, the more it seems to me to call for a legal report. But I think we are, in a way, much more responsible for the behavior of our minor children than we are after they have reached the age of majority, and we are much less responsible for distant relatives, acquaintances, and the like. So my own culpability in failing to report some law-breaking is relative to the degree of my responsibility for the behavior of that other person.

Do I call in every case I see of someone speeding past me on the freeway? No. That's not my responsibility. But if I see evidence that they are seriously impaired in some way (weaving dangerously, etc.), well, yes, I would call that in.

I think the only good advice I have to give here, beyond such rules of thumb, is that you exercise the best judgment of your own level of responsibility (to the criminal, to his or her victims, and to your fellow citizens) and of what you can do that is most likely to provide the best available resolution to the situation.

I don't think there is a hard-and-fast rule to give here. Do you call the cops when you see your kid litter? Of course not! Just make them pick it up and give them a good lecture about why that is unacceptable behavior. But if you see them commit murder? Well, yes, then it seems appropriate. If I caught one of my children shoplifting, I would try to come up with a way to make them repay the store--but I don't think I would be supportive if people at the store gave me an indication that they aggressively prosecute every case of shoplifting. I think our responsibilities change in different relationships. I would also try to "correct" minor misdemeanors (like littering) when done by friends or more distant family members. The worse the crime, the more it seems to me to call for a legal report. But I think we are, in a way, much more responsible for the behavior of our minor children than we are after they have reached the age of majority, and we are much less responsible for distant relatives...

Why is it desirable to be judged by a jury of one's "peers"? We demand that our

Why is it desirable to be judged by a jury of one's "peers"? We demand that our doctors, business executives and politicians be highly exceptional individuals. So why should we trust court decisions, which can often be both incredibly important and incredibly difficult, to random groups of laypersons?

This kind of objection often comes up, but I think is based upon a misunderstanding of what it means to be a "peer" in the required (legal) sense. One is my "peer" if one is a fellow citizen with all associated rights and responsibilities. That person doesn't have to be my equal in strength, or intelligence, or at basketball--he or she simply has to be my equal as a citizen. If their vote counts as much as mine, they're my peer.

In his Republic, Plato said (with evident contempt) that democracy was something like government by "bald-headed tinkers." (I resemble that!) But at the heart of democratic theory is the idea that all people are "created equal," by which the theorist cannot sensibly mean "equal in all things." The point is that we are all, or at least should be all, regarded as politically and legally equal. Other political theories--including especially Plato's--obviously reject this idea. Plato especially thought that political decisions--just like all medical decisions--should be made only by those with appropriate expertise. It is a little difficult to identify just how we would identify this expertise, however, how we could produce it in a class of rulers (or judges), and how we could avoid corruption of such a system.

This kind of objection often comes up, but I think is based upon a misunderstanding of what it means to be a "peer" in the required (legal) sense. One is my "peer" if one is a fellow citizen with all associated rights and responsibilities. That person doesn't have to be my equal in strength, or intelligence, or at basketball--he or she simply has to be my equal as a citizen . If their vote counts as much as mine, they're my peer. In his Republic , Plato said (with evident contempt) that democracy was something like government by "bald-headed tinkers." (I resemble that!) But at the heart of democratic theory is the idea that all people are "created equal," by which the theorist cannot sensibly mean "equal in all things." The point is that we are all, or at least should be all, regarded as politically and legally equal. Other political theories--including especially Plato's--obviously reject this idea. Plato especially thought that political decisions--just like all medical...