« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#126 — In Defense of Honor

2018-05-08 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast Sam Harris speaks with Tamler Sommers about cultures of honor. They discuss the difference between honor and dignity, “justice porn,” honor killings, honor and interpersonal violence, prison and gang culture, collective responsibility and collective punishment, retributive vs restorative justice, the ethics of forgiveness and redemption, #metoo, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Today, I'm speaking with Timler summers, you might know, Timler is one of the hosts of the very bad wizards. Podcast he's also an associate professor at the University of Houston. He holds a phd in philosophy from Duke University and he is the author of a very interesting new book title, why honor matters and today Tamil and I get deep into the topic of honor. And why it might still matter. He certainly thinks it has more value than I do so agree on points and disagree on others, but the whole topic is fascinating and consequential. And I hope you feel that we have done the topic- some justice and now without further delay. I bring you, summers I I'm here with Hamler Somers town with thanks for coming on the podcast. Thank you for having me we've done a bunch of podcasts together, mostly a mostly you and and David Pizarro
We have been on mine once and then I've been on yours at least twice. I think there were two marathon sessions and then- There was a you came on when we had just a bunch of Gaston all right to say what you change your mind about right right. So for those who aren't aware, although I will have introduced you before this You are one of the hosts of the very bad wizards podcast, which I love and widely recommend. And you are a philosophy, professor and the author of a book that was just published this month why honor matters? Yes, why honor matters we'll talk about the book? Mostly, I guess we could also wander off the book, but the the book. I I just got a couple days ago, so I haven't finished, but I've read enough of to know that it's quite interesting and and relevant to many questions of how we live both personally and how we organize society, you are especially concerned about the justice system, so will get in
all of that. But before we do, I guess how did you come to this defense of honor? Because this is not this something rather arcane? Eric about waking up one morning deciding that we need more of an honor culture rather than less. How did you stumble on this problem? Yeah this is one of those happy accidents that sometimes you get in academia where I did, as I think you know, my my phd work, my dissertation, dissertation on on moral risk ability and free will- and I defended us a skeptical view. Much like yours,. And I was particularly concerned with how are retributive intuitions evolved intuitions that people deserve to suffer that people deserve to be punished deserve to be blamed and so I was
Looking at a lot of kind of cultural and genetic theories biology and recommended to me a book called culture of honor by Richard is and yeah I've column, Richard Nixon Espita, hey, now kind of accidental rival of yours yeah. But this is a just, a fantastic book that they wrote Their idea was that people in the American South, because they are descendants of the Scotch irish herders they tend to subscribe to more of an honor culture than people the north and they presented a bunch of experiments that showed this, and so I read the okay and- and their idea was- is that these norms and these values
to emerge in certain kinds of environments, with a particular ecology with a particular kind of social arrangement, and That just led me to kind of explore those norms and the the differences in the values that they had compare tune on our cultures as it related to responsibility And one of the things: I found was, They really don't emphasize control as much as a necessary condition for being response. Or blameworthy. In fact you could be responsible for something you don't even do but a member of your group dead or number, your family did, and so this.
Became for me, this huge project of looking at cultural diversity in people's attitudes about responsibility and freedom, and so I wrote a book about that. It's called relative justice, it's more of an academic book than this one, but at first it was just sort of a kind of a curiosity. It was something that I thought was really interesting, and then I found myself getting drawn to some of the the values in these cultures and recognizing the absence of some of those values. In my own life and in the life of the United States, for better and for worse but uh, I started to think for the first time, maybe for worse in a lot of ways, and that led me to actually start exploring the idea of a defensive honor like a honor comeback back
get in a way that reclaiming honor in a way that will sort of contain some of its dangers, but harness some of its virtues. It interesting because the rangers are so salient to me that I think, will disagree on on many points throughout this conversation, because I you know honor and certainly on our culture, seems to capture almost everything we want to out grow as a civilization. And yet I I'm I'm sympathetic to to many of your points with respect to what has been lost in our current conception of justice. To me, I certainly retreated
justice has a a lot that can be improved about it. The notion of honor does appeal to something very deep in us and to forsake that appeal across the board comes with a price. I think we we have to acknowledge that we pay a psychological price and an a a social price for just jettisoning. This is a push value So it'll be interesting because I think they'll be clear disagreement here, but there is a gray area and and- and I think perhaps even most of it is gray and will converge on some points so before we get into the details of of honor culture and its application to to justice in particular what is honor and how does it differ from its counterfeits, like dignity or or self esteem which really an
more of our modern liberal values. That's unfortunately, for me not the easiest question to answer. I think that part of the mmhm with honor one of the reasons that people don't talk about it that much even to criticize it and is that it's very hard pin down exactly what it is, and this is especially true in Philosophy- is there's so little philosophical work on honor. That it was hard to even find kind of a target or or or a critic that, hone in on in trying to write the book. It's it's a messy kansei, and it can mean,
things in a lot of contacts, philosophers especially don't like their concepts Massey, but I think this is one of its virtues actually is because I think its messiness, as a concept, is well suited to the messiness and complexity of our. I, the the choices we have to make and the the relationships we kind of have the social relations, but that that's Dodging the question, let me just at least try to give some characteristic features of communities that are honor oriented. So one of the things you find across various honor communities is a heightened concern for personal reputation, and a heightened concern for group reputation. So there I mean we all are.
We all value our reputation to some degree, but in honor cultures that is ramped up quite a bit and, along with that, comes a heightened sensitivity to insults and a heightened sensitivity to slights or challenges to tear up, cation, because if somebody challenges your reputation and you back down, then your that's a source of shame in most honor communities. So there is this strong conviction that people should handle their own business in honor cultures that that they should stand for themselves when they're challenged and not turn to third parties. To resolve their own conflicts. And so that's why you have like stop. Snitching campaigns in honor culture of the inner city and
gangs and you know, it, lay in baseball and hockey players. I talk a lot about baseball and hockey because those think are the most honor oriented sports. They when they get into their beefs or feuds. They don't speak to the media. They don't speak to the league. They try to there's a strong code that you have to handle any offences against. I or challenges or insults to the team themselves. You keep it all in house. I don't know enough about baseball. I was surprised, account of the beginning of a batter by a pitcher, the the intentionally, throwing the ball Adam is part of the culture of baseball, to a degree that I and realizing baseball is a lot more like hockey. Then I realized. That's right, it really as Anna and it's kind of fascinating, the all the unwritten rules in this is another feature of a lot. A lot of honor cultures is a lot of unwritten no
terms and codes they go along that just that are part of, the what governs the way oh behave in these cultures and their console involving they're they're flexible but but they're, very internal and so from from an outsiders perspective. They can be difficult to understand but yeah I mean you can hit home run in baseball an walk a little too slowly run a little too slowly around the bases, and then that will make you a target. For that you know the next time you come up to the plate. There's just so many it's it's a pretty busy in kind of and and dramatic kind of fascinating set of rules govern you know when you're supposed to get paid back when you're supposed to just take. You know just accept that you're being hit by the pitcher because you understand that they have a grievance and they need to. They need to
their revenge and then get it over with, and you can move on and that's very typical of honor. Jurors and I think, baseball and hockey are examples in my mind of successful honor communities, because they're able to contain conflicts and not let them spin out of control other pictures of honor communities. They tend to place higher value on virtues and character traits like courage, hospitality, loyalty, integrity and maybe This is one of the problems you're going to have with them solid, already with a particular group, there's a real sense of collective identification and collective responsibility in honor cultures and there's sense of tribal like their tribal. There there's a real tribal
and to cultures, but I think that Word right now. The way it's tossed around today doesn't capture the sense in which, on our cultures are tribal. Today, when we speak about tribal we often mean, I think, sometimes when you speak about tribalism and what people like pinker and we offer in people identifying with ideology like a little ideology or a racial or ethnic ideology, but in an honor culture there is this sense of collective identification. There is this tribalism but you're identifying with actual people, not a not a, not an idea, actual people the people in your community who you know and and who you interact with on a day to day basis, and so that's the sense in which honor communities are tribal
there are two examples that come to mind that really crystallize. What is it practive about honor and what is obviously pathological about it. I guess I'll just float both of those to you and it 'cause. They seem to articulate psychological streams for me. So this is the one you reference in the book. You might reference both I saw one you talk about the satisfaction that away anyone who watches you Youtube videos bullies get pounded by the people they were. They were targeting, there's actually a site or a thread on Reddit called Justice porn which wraps up some of these videos. So if you watch these actually, if you're a guy, I I you know being a guy. I only know what it's like to actually see it with it with the brain of a man, but
Iowa mansion women feel some of the same, if not the same satisfaction here, so that the prototypical cases you know, is there some thug yeah on the sidewalk, who is harassing people as they passed and eventually he picks the wrong person. You know who turns out to be a professional boxer or mma fighter and just gets destroyed It's a perfectly encapsulated moral circumstances really like. I just a mini morality play in like two minutes, because this person's culpability is absolutely clear. There's no question. That this guy. If anyone deserves to get pounded unconscious, it's this guy and then it happens, and it seems like a
result. Morally and again, so it has the feature of there's no appeal to a third party. The person who was threatened is defending himself in some cases herself. Okay, there's some some great videos where women you know wind up, destroying the guy who was harassing him, those respects that is fine and it's hard to see what's wrong with it, except when you scale it to the rest of society, if you're, if you're, if you're going to run a society in this way, you have to acknowledge that the full chaos and dysfunction of been data and vigilante ism is the result and civilization. As you know, as you mentioned tanker into it, as he's pointed out again and again in large part, depends on our outsourcing in the use of force.
To the state- and yet these videos would be very different if they just entailed somebody. You know getting on the phone and calling the police and watching the police show up and arrest the guy, which is how it has to work in an orderly society. As a counterpoint to this, I would say that it almost the reductio ad absurdum of honor as a force for good, is that the concept of on killing, which you see in it's very widespread in the muslim world, is not only there but in traditional societies. It's often imagined that the on- owner of the family is fatalis threatened by any sexual indiscretion on the part, any of the women in the family. So if a man's daughter refuses to marry the person he's chosen for her or has sex out of wedlock or justice caught holding some guys hands to whom she's not married in these societies and in these communities, even within our own societies. You often
about a father or a father and a brother killing a young woman for the imagine, the fans to the family's honor that has been given here, and so you know, if you could see a you tube video of that there'd be none of the satisfaction for anyone standing outside of that circumstance. You know just give you both of those examples to react to yeah. Ok, so let me take the justice porn, one first man, our address the honor killing I mean. Certainly nothing in this book is anything but horrify by honor killings, and I take it really seriously as a problem. But let me first go back to what makes those videos so satisfying I think the way you framed it is that it's perfect justice, because this bully gets exactly what he deserved. I mean, assuming that it is a guy which it almost always is
and- and I think that it's it's even a little bit more than that or it's it's a sick. Lee more than that, because you could imagine just a stranger punching the bully just kind of bystander an impartial bystander, punching the bully and then that's not as satisfying. What's especially satisfying- about those videos is that a person who was going to be a victim who is going to be bullied, stand up for themselves and the sense of respect that comes with that self respect, respect from the community, respect from the people who are watching. I mean it's palpable and you can, see it and it actually it's tangible people, and sometimes it even comes from the bully. Sometimes even the bully respects the person that just knocked them out, because they stood up for themselves,
a very common dynamic, and that is it Exactly what is lost when you Marshall out these kinds of conflicts to some impartial third party that's why you know I say in the book: it's not just as porn it's not even remotely justice arousing to You know, have the bully be taken away by a security, officer or the principal and get suspended or even expelled. You know at that it's like. Well, maybe the bully, maybe the school needed, to do that because of the harm that that he was causing, but that's that's sort of a the lesser of it rather than an assertion of self respect. Now some I that's not possible and that's the problem. That's the problem with honor cultures is sometimes A power imbalance is too great and you can't stand up for yourself.
And you need third parties. To come in and prevent great injustice, and that's where this idea of containment comes in But we shouldn't lose, and I this is what I wanted of the things. Feel like we've lost, we shouldn't lose or reject the value of standing up for yourself of being willing to take risk that maybe you will get your ass kicked or something, but at least you are showing that you can't be pushed around and you're, not immediately. Turning to a third party, to handle a conflict. That is that directly involves balls, you, okay. So that's! That's the justice, one, that's the easier example for me: honor killings, I think, are an extreme
example of one of the problems with honor, which is the There is very little restriction on the content of honor norms. So all honor groups have. Norms and codes that determine. And how honor and dishonor are allocated within the community. And those there commonality's, but there are also a lot of differences, an there's, nothing Then the sort of honor morality that constrains what those codes are. So if you have a community like certain cultures where just suspicion or the reality of extramarital sex. Part of a family member will reduce the honor of the family that will make the family dishonorable and you called that imaginary and it's a
generate it's. It's imaginary. For them they are, they are dishonor. And they are treated poorly by the people in that community. Now, that's a fucked up. Are you allowed to swear on this podcast? Do you have some dude? You are that's a fucked up norm it's a up way of allocating honor and dishonor in a designed or shame in this case. But that's, but that's what happens in these communities is that family honor and all the privileges that come with being and an honored member of the community and all the shit that comes with being ashamed member of the community that will happen to the family unless they act in the way that they feel they need to have that they need the in that- and you know often they do want to do it. You know you know if it's like a duty, it's like some sort, weird perverse duty more
duty that they feel like they have to kill their the sure that they love for the daughter that they love in order to preserve the families that the families honor for generations, and so this is a huge problem with honor that we don't have those kinds of restrictions about what the norms can will be that determine how honor and dishonor are allocated set. Another goal of containment is to make sure. So you know in my world. If you find an honor community where this is their way, This is their value. This is their way of allocating honor and dishonor. Then you just then you don't allow that. So you do need some kind of higher,
authority, that will inform a minimal respect, for human rights in a way that would rule out honor killings, but again that doesn't Can you throw out the baby with the bathwater that doesn't mean that you, the fact that there are honor killings in the vast minority of honor cultures across the world, and throughout history I mean it's a tiny, tiny percentage, cultures that find this to be morally acceptable or not dishonorable. To kill, family member? The fact that exist doesn't mean we should throw out honor and all the motivational benefits that come with it. Yes, the thing I would argue here is that the
the only thing that would value on or appropriately morally and psychologically, and the only thing that would contain its perversions would be some kind of consequentialist understanding of its effects on, individuals and on societies. So I mean the reason why it's bad to have. Oceans of of male honor that extend to the sexual behavior or even the sexual of misfortune, of Women and the families amaze a unity, as you know, honor killings even happen when, when a girl gets raped because she is viewed as solid by having been raped massacre the perfect case of moral lunacy, where you you know, a father kills his daughter because of the shame that has been brought to the family over her rape, so you would want to argue that that kind of honor is Pathologie on the grounds that it creates immense human misery,
for no good reason and doesn't create any benefit that outweighs that misery, where in other cases, where you're talking about things like how ality and the kinds of moral, her wisdom that can be motivated by things like honor and can't quite be motivated by its cousins like self esteem or dignity. Yeah or dignity yesterday and then you want to argue for its place because it does good for us, but I again like even even going to the the best possible case. Row is the best case we've mentioned so far, which is these justice, porn videos there. You can argue that there's a higher norm to which even people who were. Chock full of honor. Would it here in those circumstances, so, for instance, I have spent a lot of time thinking about self defense and violence and
spent a lot of time, training and martial arts and I'm surrounded by people who are who have it and this amount of Marshall Honor, but because they have so much honor in so much experience in these, are you know world champions in brazilian jujitsu, and you know the Swat team members and Navy seals my people who are just who, who have absolutely no doubt about their ability to handle, situations of you know: interpersonal violence. These are people who, when they were gonna, walk around in the world and c e behavior of the sort that you know were seen in those videos, they're, not the guys who run up and punch the bully in the face, because one they have absolutely nothing to prove from that contest made they. They know they can punch the bully in the face if they declined to punch the bully in the phase, they will not lose sleep. That night wondering what it says about them. Right, they're not going to be racked by
what about their own martial abilities, they see these things in very pragmatic terms, and they just realize they have a lot to lose. If things go haywire, you know, they've been in enough fights themselves that they know What follows, then? No, you, you punch a bully in the face, and you know your, you know your your hand gets cut and you've got his blood in in your wounds. And now you have to worry about whether or not you know you need an AIDS test. There is the possibility of getting arrested and having witnesses misunderstand what happened there and now you have. You know criminal or civil charges against you against is a huge hassle, awaits you if you get involved in any of this stuff, and so when you talk to people who understand human violence really deeply. These are not the people who you see, meeting out vigilante justice in
kinda videos at Norwood Day. If, when you talk about what they would do in those situations, come especially true when you imagine what it's like to walk around armed, I mean people who I know who carry concealed weapons. You don't get into shoving and punching encounters with, dangers when you have a gun on your belt, because you are then two steps away from having to decide whether you're in over your head, and now it's now it's escalated to a lethal encounter with all of the legal ramifications. So People were walking around armed or often just the first to just dial nine one one and not go near situations like that right and that I mean at a certain point. The consequences do become too dude to Do the thing that I think honor cultures and honor codes tend to promote, which is to handle your business and and
not involve some sort of stranger or a third party I mean but to respond to your to your claims about the Navy seal people that you uh experts that you know that's a very common feature of honor cultures- that if it's clear that they can if they need to do, if called upon respond to some sort of salt or challenge to that. Celebs then they, often don't need to. I mean the main, the hope the whole even some of these honor norms on this ask this aspect norms, arms evolved is to give people an incentive to preserve a reputation. That means you can't be messed with right
and they have that reputation already. They have nothing else to prove, as as you say, camera, except they might only have it in their head. In that context I mean so, if you imagine you're just you're trash, lane with your wife and your in a bar that you've never it in before and will never be in again, and you don't look like some colossus who would scare people at a glance. But you're, a Navy seal or whatever, who has no doubts about his ability to protect himself and his wife and you might even be armed, say right, and so somebody at the bar challenges you and even insult your wife, like a pro typical case where you would have as a man you would feel tempted by
A million years of of hominid evolution at your back to defend yourself and your partner? That is precisely the situation where it's most tempting, where people who have this kind of discipline, see the downside and just walk away and and actually don't save face. In that context, the bully has the status but there's nothing, there's no community to save face to their third. These are strangers, as you say, so, there's no real incentive to save face because no he knows who they are in the first place, there's no reputation to either. Lose, preserve or augment, and I don't know like- I want to interview one of these people right now and ask what would happen if they are at a bar with their wives or their daughters, and somebody does insult them or seems physically threatening or starts to hit on with their wives. I don't know if there going to if they're real,
going to walk away from something like that. If they feel like the consequences of aging are that it's not going to lead to gun a gun fight which most bar fights don't lead. Gunfights an most and most conflicts. Don't lead to anything worse than just Somebody getting their kicked. Obviously, there's there's what they think would happen or should happen, and that is what would actually happen when push comes to shove, literally But I've had many of these conversations, and I know what people aspire to do in those situations based on what they consider to be a higher ethic that even even does
Irv, this notion of honor in the area if you've you've come out of a and on our culture. Like you know, the Navy seals rightness of the Navy seals are bad. They have you know. Their training has many of the features you you describe of an honor culture yeah. I talk about them a lot in the book actually, but the net result when you, when you try to when you export that to living in a in a more cosmopolitan society, it becomes reduced down to a kind of higher ethic, which is, it would be a kind of failure. If it's a failure to have avoided conflict, that was, in fact, avoidable and avoidance is still a kind of math principle there. Given all of the uncertainty that comes with conflict, and yet it is, there is a kind of I mean if your honorable enough, if you're secure enough- and I guess this is where self esteem may swallows honor. If there really is no threat to your view of yourself,
when backing down from a challenge, then you, your you're, free to do it in a way that somebody who is more threatened, isn't the person who's easily goaded into a fight that he can't win just because he finds it so intolerable to lose face. You know that's who is just a monkey being manipulated by eye contact, an insult yeah I mean so. I We agree about this in this sense, where there's nothing about honor. That suggests that in every can't You need to act in a certain way. I mean this is one of the best things about honor codes and and honor values, is how flexible they are, and so in context, where standing up for yourself or standing up for your family or standing up for your friends isn't appropriate. According to their codes, then they're not going to do it and you're right. Also, that and you need a certain level of self regard and confidence in your
abilities that you won't be lying awake in bed for the next two weeks, thinking about how you should have stood up to person or how you should have said something or how you should have just walked away and listen, to them, taught you or whatever it is. You know if you have that level. This is, I think, it's, this isn't just True, when it comes to violence, this is true in most aspects of life when people insult you in a way that you don't feel like they have the standing to really affect your reputation and the way you view yourself and it's it's easy for that to just glide off
buy a when you're in a situation where you do, you feel like your self respect is at stake and you do feel like your reputation among people amongst people. You care about is at stake. Well, then, that's a different story, but in the kinds of situations you're describing it, it doesn't seem like the either their self respect or their reputation, is at stake here. So yeah you absolutely in those kinds of situations, do the thing that will not lead to some kind of uh none. Predictable calamity or something like that, and in some ways it's a point of pride. It's like a kind of a warrior value to be able to have the kind of self control that you don't get triggered like that in situation, when it's not warranted, I mean that is a big
part of warrior culture, a big part of the code. I mean you know you see. This was SAM rise, is restraint not giving in to violence when it's not called for is. As my much of a virtue as being violent when it is called for the real concern with honor as a major plank in ones. Morality is that it creates a kind of a tractor state where incentives get all screwed up and you're. The problem is that it is. It is dependent on how others view you, or at least how you imagine they will view you and then that becomes a kind spiral of needless norm enforcement, which
He comes highly non normative if you, if you stand back outside of that culture and look at the the consequences into the there. Many examples you given the book. One example, which I often think of here is prison where in incentives are, are so badly. A line that even good people will reliably turn into monsters. Simply because there is no alternative given what everyone else will do to them. If they don't prove that they can be monsters right, you have to project a kind of almost the same toughness so that you're not taking advantage of and you know, and and and and that's true for people who just aren't like that who aren't disposed to that but that they have to make that part of their identity. This is true Elijah Anderson a book. I quote a lot in the book that sociologist
I Anderson and his book code of the street, but this is also I think of young kids and certain urban neighborhoods. And you know these are kids- that they friends, and they want to have a normal high school experience. They want girls, but they also want to uh, not not be sitting ducks for the more aggressive kids in the neighborhood. So they have to establish I'm kind of reputation for toughness, so but there not taken advantage of and thought to be weak, an again if that's not who they are? Even if that's, even if they don't have that kind of disposition for violence or aggression they have to they have to jack that and they have to do it. This is just their environment. This is just the environment in prison. You have to project that kind of image and and when it's successful,
They can do it and not have it swallow up there vanity entirely, because there is this kind of tricky point equilibrium point where you shown that you're tough enough you can handle any challenges and insults that come at you, but you don't, but nobody feels you need to go any further than that, and then they will leave you alone. So if you can project this image of being violent if called upon and to be violent. Then you don't actually have to engage in acts of violence, and you won't be the victim of violence. But if you're not able to do that, then you're more likely to be a victim right. But all of that seems to be an advertisement for some prior stage of humanity that we are wise to have outgrown,
at least outside of a prison or outside of a gang or outside of a ghetto. That's crime ridden, or these are all places we are busily leaving both as individuals and who are lucky and as societies which are structured along different, lines, and yet you seem to worry we're leaving something critical behind in that flight. We're leaving the values that come from how to survive in those kinds of environments, because we have not, as a society, figured out a way to extinguish all these kinds of scenarios and social environments where people will be threatened in this way and where your reputation can ensure
that you'll either be left alone or that you'll be a kind of a victim, and you know, while the fact that there are prisons and the conditions in prisons which a poor and tan. The fact that there are these really poor neighborhoods, where people are desperate, that's obviously that's a bad thing but that doesn't mean that every value that comes from those kinds of environment and how to handle yourself in those kinds of environments. That can actually be a real If that we shouldn't lose just because we're so worried about the kinds of conditions, that these environments, half poverty or prison. I mean a good example- is, I think, the a military and soldiers there they develop a kind of
Code and a Anna Karenina, strict honor code in the Navy. Feels you're talking about right. They, they have a code that is crucial to them. Important to them. Involves collective accountability, collective responsibility, never leaving a brother lying out in the field right and then they leave those kinds of environments, but they retain. The values that they wired in those environments in the kind of environments they go into and the kind environments that necessitate having those kind racing those kinds of values there they're often really Dane and something normally, we would want to avoid. But the values they bring out of that is something that stays with them for the rest of their lives. And I and I'd be surprised if you found any
Navy seals are really military anywhere saying that they want to turn way from honor and the kind of honor values that were instilled in them, when they were at. At war or in boot camp or wherever it is that that they released headed to internalize it there. Just these other parts of the the honor picture that seem dispensable in the end and and maybe we can purify this notion- honor to something that is is compatible with with a more modern, liberal consequential as value system. But you mentioned tribalism briefly and also the notion that I've kind of collective responsibility for things so that you know, even even if the, if you do something terrible,
to you know, another person he or even member of his family could retaliate. Against you, obviously, but not even necessarily just against you, but anyone close to you. So you know, if you kill someone will. Then then, their family can kill your brother say as in retribution and then somehow honor makes sense of that instrumental violence, while you're you're targeting someone who's actually not responsible for anything here, but because of their association with the responsible party, it's deemed legitimate to target them because of the effect that will have on the person who you actually do have a grievance with see. I disagree with that interpretation of collective punishment and collective responsibility. I don't think instrumental it often has it often achieves instrumental goals like
now showing that the family is not to be messed with, but I think in honor cultures in true honor cultures. They think it's just they think. If someone from your group, I mean in a In an easier to relate to example, when you get into a bean ball feud in baseball and the opposing pitcher it's one of your batters, if you're in the American League, that picture isn't going to come up to the plate and so you're going to just hit another guy on that team and yes, there is, your value in doing that. To show the other team that you can't throw your players, but there there is also a sense that this is the right thing to do. This is the just thing to do that if, if that team
as a picture. That will do that. Then everyone on that team is accountable for that, and I think you know that maybe seems irrational, certainly from a perspective that we come from where individual responsibility is the only thing that can possibly matter and as you leave and I used to believe you can't even really make sense of individual responsibility, moral responsibility and that kind of dessert entailing sands. That just seems totally insane, but I think, there's a lot of moral advantages to that kind of attitude and I think you can see them when you think. Look it's not just about punishment, it's not just about getting revenge on and on family.
His brother may have it injured or killed the your family member. It's also about like making or compensating somebody for something that your family member did right. It's that same instinct, that same note, that encourages motivates people to look. I know it was my brother who harmed you, but my brother can't make it to you. My brother can't make this right, but I can't- and I feel obligated to do it yeah that resonates with me and the only reason they feel obligated, because because they feel that sense of collective identification that sense of collective response, the well, even though I didn't do it, I had no control over whether my brother did it or not. I still feel an obligation try to make it right to try to to make up for what My brother did- and you see that
in honor cultures quite a bit as well, so it's not all of the dark side of these blood feuds and Hatfield always these long, multi generational because of violence. It's also a sense of justice that yeah, it's not just you you're responsible for the people around you and that also as a side benefit encourages a healthy amount of self policing within groups, because now you know that if one of your group members flux up you're going to have to be you're going to have to pay for it in some way, I'm certainly open to the utility of all of these ideas and social structures again the cash value premier. Morally is always the consequences of thinking in these ways and obeying these various norm
and, yes, a Emmylou to my view of free will, as as undercutting any notion of real responsibility in in the in the ultimate sense, or is it said, imagine to exist by people who believe in free will, but you would think tax like ultimately, just has a rational to think that somebody is individually responsible as some for for an act that they did as it's just it's no more rational to think that than it is to think that you're responsible for what a group member did right. I mean bring to your view, except for the consequences of holding people responsible in those cases. I mean the reason why it makes sense to hold you responsible for for much of what you do is that doing that
reliably modifies what you will do in the future, whereas if I held you responsible for what other people did, it can't actually modify what other people will do in the future. Unless you are a lever that influences them reliably, your brain will will influence another person's behavior less reliably than his brain will, and that's why the locus of Control is the other person. Well, that depends on the situation if, if, if you have a tight community where there's a lot of self police. Sitting a lot of people, keeping a lid on their fellow group this behavior then there can be plenty of utility in punishing then the is what is wrong with instrumental violin
what is wrong with kidnapping the children of a bad person, and you know, threatening to torture them to influence that bad person. Well, you don't have to be a content. See there's something unsavory about living in a world where at any moment, innocent children can be captured in and tortured so as to influence their parents a you know, because if that we've we've just discovered, this is a great way to influence parents. Other things begin to shift once you start treating p people as props. In this way, the reason why a focus on the individual seems to be such a good moral heuristic. So much of the time is that It is what it is to treat people as ends in themselves right, and that seems to maximize things like the golden rule and the actual concern for both the
fax of your actions on others and how those others will be changed and how they will behave in the future, but these are empirical claims that you're making right so ache. You can Certainly imagine worlds where it just wouldn't be true that holding the locus of responsibility at the at the individual level, an doesn't produce the best consequences and they're, probably environments where, like actual environments such imagine environments, but actual environment. Where that's not the case I mean that's. Call, Nisbett and Cohen idea of why honor norms arose in the first place. Is the environment was conducive? to them? There was very limited third party enforcement. It was very high cost of getting your
or a family or group being uh TIM of a raid that could completely destroy the wealth of your entire family. 'cause there There is in the animals are all they have. So if someone Does the animals they don't have anything anymore, and so you have to project a kind of image that makes that did is people from making the attempt to steal the wealth of your family and by projecting that image requires that you don't just hold individuals responsible. You hold potential rating groups responsible for what an individual within that group will do so I mean you might be right that individual responsibility leads to the best consequences. In all environments or no, it isn't perfect.
But these environments that seem to function by other norms or honor based norms. Are these of environments that are more akin to a state of nature or a moral emergency or some psychological experiment that we are quite happy not to be living in so it's a prison or a gang or a war or a condition of such scarcity, where, if there's a challenge to your status, everything you've worked so hard to attain is ruined. There's no social safety net. There's no love! Ethan to come in and help and restore order. It's all on you at all times. Otherwise your children will be devoured. The further we get from those conditions. It seems more and more, we discover the wisdom of outsourcing uses of force and coercion too a third party yeah, I mean I guess this is
probably where we might have a point of disagreement as well, because I think leviathans have serious costs, and I think you see that in United States. We have such an aversion. The violence that the response to an uptick in islands in the 70s and 80s led to a prison population of two point: three million people oh and led to some of the conditions that we talked about earlier and that and that has sort of trickle down to school discipline policies. Zero. Its policies in school for for violence, which I try to show, has created a kind of school to prison, pipe and many other people have shown it better than I have. And the I think we you're wrong to assume or to gradually ourselves
that we live in this perfectly enlightened culture, when the cost of having such a strong central enforcement system are so so high and there are often invisible to us. I mean we don't see the people who are in prison. We don't see what they have to go through. We don't see the suffering that's caused, and that is a direct result of us deciding to Marshall out every conflict that we get into two specialist an being unwilling to take the risk of being a victim to violence so that we have to get everyone who has a propensity for that off the streets for a long for a long long time. So I I think that we have to reckon with the costs of what this kind of, a bill,
city that we have to just not not handle when we're challenged ourselves that that that's come at it at a tremendous cost and it's a cost that we don't often experience, but that people behind bars experience It's way too much and often the the racial disparities they are completely and I'm just I'm sure you agree with this and unjustifiable. Well, that's interesting, so I think your description of the incarceration problem, at least here I don't I don't know about in your book. Leaves out the important variable of just how insane the war on drugs has been. If you didn't lock people up for truly victimless crimes in this society, then the people who would be in prison would be the people who had proved
and that they were willing to use violence to at minimum rob others, I have people in prison of those two point: three million people do you think, are there for a truck nonviolent drug crimes. I would think it's probably at least one slash three, but I would bet it would be closer to half its like five to six percent, no drugs sentences in general in general are responsible for sixteen percent of prisoners in state prisons, which is the vast majority of the prisoner population, Only five to six percent of that group are are low level and non violent criminals. So it's not just drug crime, that has changed is that changed recently or or do we just quietly, let out a lot of nonviolent drug offenders and I didn't notice or
where they're never, that many in prison in the first place yeah, I mean I think, just how saying it is that we lock people up for possession of marijuana or various other drugs has led us to think that that's bigger part of the problem that then it actually is. I mean, I think, it's kind of a self serving myth to tell ourselves that if we just didn't lock up people for nonviolent drug crimes. Then are massing, mass incarceration, and we go away. In fact, you know there is there a couple of books recently, I don't have them handy right now. That shows that if we really want to make a dent in the prison population, we to not just stop putting people prison for nonviolent drug crimes, but reduce
the amount of time that people spend in prison for violent crimes. I just google this so here clearly is the basis of my confusion here, which is that in federal prisons, half of people are locked up for drug offenses, but, as you say, there's only a hundred thousand people in federal prisons and nearly one one slash half million in state prisons, and that there is you say: sixteen percent have drug crime as their most serious offense. I've clearly been advertised to with the federal prison data and not the state prison data, so then you sound, like you're, doubting the wisdom of locking up people who have proven their willingness to use violence against innocent people in our society to steal their stuff for rape them or, in the extreme case, kill them. Why would you be skeptical about that? I'm I'm not a skeptical of lop
locking up rapists or murderers, or People who are offenders, you know of serious assaults. I you think we have to think long and hard about how much time we put people in prison for some of the less serious violent offence and you know one of the big things I promote really the thing that is most exciting To me, in the book, and that I'm most excited about pursuing in future. Research is restorative justice, as a way of addressing both non violent crimes, but also violent crimes. And allowing victims and offenders to get together and determine within boundaries how They can resolve
the conflict that that they had, and I think this with violent offenders there when this is been implemented when restorative justice models have been implemented, it can be extremely effective, within involving the victim and making the victim. Less alienated by the justice system and also really effective for the offender, in understanding the consequences of their violent personal consequences of what it is they've done. And so it is an effective way, of. Promoting a or just getting the the the offender not to offend again you see, really low recidivism rates among people who have gone through the restorative justice process, but that does mean that they will get less, prison time. In many cases, then they
would have otherwise and so yeah. It's not that you never put these people in prison. It's that you you, Think long and hard about the length of their sentence is and where they're the kind of justice system that we have is the best way of handling those kinds of offense. I would be the first to admit that, given that most people who go to prison will be coming out of prison and back into society, we want prisons to be very different places than they are, and we want to think about what the goal of incarceration should be. Given that prison tends to function as a kind of graduate school for criminality, the system is totally broken because these people come back into society having been given no tools by which to change their their lives and they've been given additional tools by which to harm others. So let's just talk about the
justice system and how it's broken and how? How would you differentiate retribution all justice from restorative justice? Yes, so this is where we might find some common ground. I think because I think both of us are in are no fans of tribute of justice and that ideal, as it's both practiced and promoted within the United States. Your problems with it are it zoom the level of autonomy. That implies in in the criminals. That is not something that they that they actually have a level of free will level of moral responsibility, that when you examine it, doesn't hold up For me, I I just think this
idea that we have. Where did you take an offense and you look at severity of the offense and you look blame worthiness of the criminal, and you match that to a specific punishment. And then everyone who has committed A crime with that degree of culpability is supposed to this never happens in practice, but supposed to get that same this, that way of understanding criminal justice, which is the the way that we embrace in this country, both that a theoretical level, and at least is aimed for Practical level, though not achieved, but I just think it's it's based on. A kind of an illusory understanding of autonomy, so I agree with you there and it just it: just doesn't hold
Rationally, I mean there's just no there's no basis for it and the effective it is to exclude The victim entirely. The victim becomes this kind of vessel just to determine the severity of the wrong, but after that their needs their desires, they want. That's completely exclude read from the criminal justice process, and so restorative justice is this recent movement that has gained some momentum, especially in Australia and New Zealand, maybe some parts of Scandinavia and in the United States has, a lot of momentum in the schools on to great effect, but not as much in adult criminal courts. It's it's making some traction in in juvenile courts, but it's a it's, it's a movement that I I I can't endorse and not-
that that takes the back to aim at Howdy personalized. Our current criminal justice system is and our current disk plan. Approaches in a wide range of domains of life are so the the essential principles of restorative justice are, are these They view crimes are offenses as conflicts between individuals, an only secondarily as violations against the state. So if you made a crime in the United States. You go on trial. It will be not you versus the person you harmed. U verse,
your victim but it'll, be you versus the state or the people versus Stanley Summers and restorative justice brings it back. You know no, it's not the state, they got assaulted. It's me that got us out there. It's the victim that got us all dead and that's how restorative justice views the conflict as it actually happened, not as as as if it was some sort of imagines transgression against a undefinable population of people. So that's the first sort of this. Principle. The second is that the primary aim of criminal justice is to repair air the harm that was done to resolve the conflict and also restore harmony within a particular community and that the goal of the legal system should
how to enable the relevant parties, the stakeholders, they sometimes call them the Rev parties, the victim, the offender, the families and other, any members who are affected, that they can all actively participate, an attempt to find a resolution to that conflict. And to resolve it, in a way that is mean info Ann right for for them, this is something that Charles Barton, who is a big advocate of restorative justice says an and you know it's funny, it gets attacked. I am from all sides, 'cause, it's so localized and because it has it has sort of right now, not too much see, radical grounding, but when it's implemented, the effects of it are so
tangible and so positive that you just half day either read a detailed account, sit and watch and sample of a restorative justice. Mediation circle it and you just see the benefits of it and not just consequential list, although I think there are, it's they're, definitely consequential as benefits from it, but it just feels more just in the same way like the justice porn, you know the price that the the victim standing up to the bully seems like. That was the perfectly just. How outcome when restorative justice works? It's it's the same. It's the same thing, and so it's something that I promote in the book. In chapter six, I tried expose or illuminate. The fraudulent's of the theory
medical underpinnings of our criminal current criminal justice system and show how restorative justice can help us remedy those uh. Those But this is- and this is also something I you want to pursue a my next project in more detail. So I I would say that if there are benefits to it, they have to be consequences. May you just have to extend your notion of what the consequences to include its seeming more just and all of the satisfaction we get from that experience? Well, that's fine. I'm happy to frame it in those terms. So let me give you some examples here that and just crack me through how restorative justice would respond to them. So you know somebody breaks my hand, you know either through negligence or through you know, criminal intent. It's obviously a bad thing for me to have my hand broken, but it doesn't completely
the rail, my life. But if I were a surgeon, you know whose livelihood depended on the use of both hands. That would be a very different sort of crime or debt between me. An a and the perpetrator that would would be would have been form there and he can think of other cases where you know the I am you know one of the greatest pianists on earth and now that I have a broken hand, I'm no longer one of the greatest pianists on earth and never will be again, let's say so. You can imagine. In that case the hand breakers of the world would experience a very different outcome in court, depending on whose hand today broke and this size of the debt incurred. Is that what I mean it would depend on what the pianist or the doctor wanted you know the year right that harm their turns out to be greater than
offender could have possibly foreseen. I take it. That's the point of the story that the offender I had no idea that he was actually assaulting a penis or a doctor that depended on the use of their hand, he's just sent into breaking ordinary hands and didn't realize he was in her hands, but you know that doesn't mean that the doctor or the pianist will be more vindictive in how they want the matter resolved it's possible that there are, but that they will be. But you know these are the kinds of things that just get worked out in in the mediation process, and I should say that these kinds of mediation process he's they take their Inspiration from the way that honor community communities, an honor culture is tribal cultures, handle conflicts as
ways of trying to I mean you know you take that person in a criminal justice in the current criminal justice, them and the pianist still has broken hands and now the offender can't really do anything for them right. They can't talk to them. They can't explain why they did what they did. They're just going to end up going to prison. The pianist is now, so better off right, but at least, if you have this kind of circle where the offender now is trying to make right what the offender, Ed, and it will be hard in that kind of case, but at least there's an opportunity to do that. In a way that our current criminal justice system denies again both in practical terms and in even in theory, right and in principle it's just shouldn't matter what the
all that matters is what could do. The offender have possibly foreseen when committing this crime. Well then, it seems like in this paradigm you should be able to if you can compensate the victim in the a given that they, the locus of concern here, is the victim and not society, then in a rich offenders should be able to just compensate victims and make them whole and then have no further Richmond right. So if Bill gates runs around breaking people's hands, he should just find out, at the end of the day, what their hands were worth to them and presumably everyone has a price, even surgeons, right: here's, here's ten years worth of lost weight, is or a hundred years worth of lost wages or double that and you know now, you can just forget about being a surgeon
so two things on that I mean. First of all, I think that not everybody is just going to be satisfied with getting money for people aren't concert pianist just with the money right, so they're not going to be satisfied with. However much money bill gates would give them, but secondly, the end of restorative justice model that I favor does have a both a flow, four and a ceiling for the kind of punish are the kind of outcome that be reached through the restorative process. So if there's a certain crime, say physical assault, king bones a stab wound or whatever. There might be a the minimum prisons
sentence that will have to be served and, and certainly in every restorative model, a maximum sentence. So even if yeah the really been dictive victim who wants the highest possible punishment, they can't go beyond whatever the ceiling is where the ceiling is set, but so so you can't, if you're a rich offender by your way out of any kind of crime There will always at least be the floor level punish, at least according to the model that I that I subscribe to you now, that said, you know if the rich offender can help to compensate for what they did in financial ways or in other ways, and and the victim feels more satisfied as a result and the
they're kind of learns the implications of what they did as a result. That seems to me to be a good thing and what needs to be resisted is this idea that everybody has to get the same, which, based on what they knew at the time they committed the offence. I mean: that's, that's the idea that the obstacle that that is the obstacle to restorative justice, because that won't happen. Now. It's ironic in some ways that that's an obstacle, because it certainly doesn't happen in our current criminal justice system. If a rich offender commits a crime they're going to get a much lighter sentence in our current system, then poor offender. Committing that exact same crime. I mean that's just Practical reality of our criminal justice system in the kinds of lawyers you can afford the difference between high priced lawyer, Anna public defender is
stark so you're going to have that anyway, but did the thing that our criminal justice system can boast is at least in theory, that wouldn't the possible or that wouldn't be considered just whereas with restore justice, even in theory you can just definitely have different punishments for similar kinds of offenses right based on what the victim wants. What the offender winds and how they resolve and the outcome, that they want to reach. You just have to swallow that, but that's something that we that we accept in every aspect of everyday life right I mean example, I in the book is, if I go to a conference in my friend, goes to a conference And we both cheat on our wives in under similar circumstances,
and then my wife throws me out, but my friend's wife decides to take him back and and make the marriage work. Caller id open marriage or just now, I'm taking you back, but you know it's gonna maybe a little more vigilant, this time, no more conferences whatever that outcome is meanwhile, I'm out on the street and my wife won't talk to me you're in the next justice porn video right, like nobody thinks. Oh, that's, not fair. That They were treated differently for the same offense. It's like yeah. Of course, the the the the victim here are the in this case the wives, get a say in how this outcome is going to be resolved and nobody so that's radically unjust in any way- and all I'm saying is we extend that general kind of flexibility
and that incorporation of the victims, desires and interests and needs into other punishment processes with weather it's in the school or the juvenile courts or the adult courts. I'm definitely sympathetic to parts of this picture. All the other parts worry me either the clearest win here is that it gets rid of the notion of a of a victimless crime. Just then that just goes completely out the window, which it should have. You know hundreds of years ago, because they, a crime, is really debt formed between the criminal and someone. But it seems to me that the debt can also be it also extended in the case of of most crimes, maybe all crimes beyond the victor.
And to the rest of society, and that- and that seems to I don't know that if it restorative justice denies that out right or just puts less emphasis on it, but it seems to me that if you're actually worried about the consequences of human misbehavior, you will. I want to know how people are affected in the aggregate from various crimes, and I bet there are surprises in store for us. If we could get the data, we could be surprised to learn that some things that we consider to be fairly innocuous are actually much, more harmful and confounding to human. Well, being you know, year after year, then things that that strike us is just pure instances of evil that, for which people should be locked up forever. This is what I think like I I, the the floor and the ceiling are set by these kinds of consequentialist considerations. You're, mentioning right. So I I do think that no matter what
the victim wants. If there is a crime that causes harm to so Friday in such a way that the person going Free Bay, don what the victim wanted, based on, maybe the victim for giving the at the offender entirely. That's just too days is Brian, yeah managing a rape as to who's who's, raping only the most forgiving. Chris is right. Exactly you just go through the neighborhoods raping people who will see it as as the core of their moral integrity as to to fully forgive the the perpetrator. Well, then sure I still have to admit the there's a cost to, of course, rest of society having rapist run free. Now I will say that this example, though, is one often gets tossed add in a critical way towards restorative Josh.
Yes, usually not in this, context of the damage. You're doing tests it by letting rapists go free but more the secondary victimization of the rape victim. So it's when it gets bad enough to be sexually assaulted, but now you have to face the person who did it, but in fact you know so you're saying that just so I understand you you're, saying that the process of just kind of going the restorative justice procedure where the victim has to weigh in on what he or she wants. That process is often is often worry, that that is sort of re, victimizing ordered or send a additional cost being imposed on the victim. Yes and that's the worry and in in some cases. That worry is Israel, real and actual in a lot of cases, though
There is a degree of empowerment that sexual assault, survivors or victims get when they face their offender in one of these kinds of confer says or mediation centers. So they did this survey in Canada recently Eighty nine percent of violent crime victims wanted to their offenders and seventy percent of rape survivors said they would welcome the opportunity for victims to be able to meet with offenders in in a kind of conference settings these kind of empowering effects that can come our surprising and something you can only fully appreciate if you are, if you either get a detailed account of these.
Encounters or you you you know actually a witness to them, but it but yeah, of course, to go back to your point. You need to set these boundaries that take into account what kind of message you're sending to potentially future criminals right to future criminals who might be thinking about acting in a certain way. So that's where the floor for punishment comes, and it's also where the ceiling for management might come as well, although I think the ceiling is more set by uh Yeah, bye, bye, consequentialist considerations that concern the given all and also the effect
of having a really high prison population. But what? If it's just the case? Let's say we do this vast analysis of human well being and its antithesis an we discover that the most costly I'm at the moment, is online fraud and identity theft and just stealing people's password and their data and the costs imposed in all kinds of ways that we feel, but in ways that we just we don't understand how these micro cost are aggregating. So you know we're just Everyone had the experience of trying to manage all their passwords on line and hack back into their life and untold hours or squandered with all of us. Failing to do this, and-
You know. People want a Diane because they're you know trying to get in to their Itunes account, and I can't remember their password while they're driving, so they can listen to an audio book or whatever it is. They do a drive in the trees and it happens because the because their billions of people suffering these little glitches due to all the people who steal, passwords and steal stuff online. This is happening to people by the billions every day year after year, and it just turns out that the price for pain for having to maintain our passwords and in terms of lost economic prosperity and actual pain and suffering. It is worse than child. Esther's or anything else that is causing people suffering. So what if we figure that out would be rational and just thing to do be just tip to actually punished and that crime more severely than any other car?
was, I mean it's funny that you're raising this in the context of restorative justice for a couple reasons, number one that that's actually the kind of crime that restorative justice can't really window, because there's no real identa high victims or their so many identifiable victims that you couldn't have the kind of localized process that restorative justice is really effective. Couldn't we run the same calculation on the? If, if we all recognize that, if, it just were a fact that know we're losing a trillion dollars a year in the US to this misbehavior, and and we all know what we could be spending that trillion on, because we can, we can translate money and into the safety of our airplanes, the safety of our roads, the medical care, that's not getting dispensed, I'm a way you can. You can translated into mortality points if you're, no doubt about the the
the actual consequence couldn't we then just advertise to the you know the the teenagers of the world. Okay, there's the late it turns crime, is not what you thought it was you. You all recognize that it's bad to hit someone over the head with a hammer and steal their wallet, but given dependent. We all are on on the internet now and and financial transactions online and everything else. Anyone who gets online and and start stealing passwords or infecting computers with with viruses or malware. You are actually the worst person in society whatever you think about what you're doing we're going to destroy your life. If we catch you well, I mean and so you and you would write you- would make the punishment for that like as as great as the punishment for homicide, or something like that. I guess this the reason. I'm curious as to why you're raising this in this context is that's exactly the kind of objection or it's some,
MS framed as a reductio ad absurdum of consequentialist list, approaches to punishment, which is that it could lead to what seems like intuitively and unjust outcome. You know say you could eliminate shoplifting entirely by just having My execution for shoplifting, if you just execute, but it's a different example in the sense that it's us being surprised by the consequent of what is seemingly innocuous by comparison and then having to re calibrate because they are they really 'cause. We they're actually are the consequences. I mean. I think it would only be just again. This is just kind of a thought experiment, but it would only be just in my mind if we could successfully advertise
Does this change in values? Surprise? Surprise. We didn't realize that all this good natured fun you kids, were having with your your computers it's harmful as it is, but you know planes are falling out of the sky because of what you just did on the F a a website, so in so far as that would be successfully communicated, then you would have to be in that the the mismatch ethically or lose. The concern is that you could have perfectly good people who would have no reason to expect that there, because in this level of human misery, but in fact they are into the hold them accountable for that level of human misery seems on just because, These are not the kinds of people who want to harm people. They just want to steal credit card information right right now I get the example and I get this sort of the idea behind it. What I'm not understanding is its connection to restorative justice, or we just
Oh, it seems more a question about consequentialist approaches to punishment in general yeah. I guess I'm I'm wondering whether our sense of having a sense of having been victimized is. It may just be a definition of restorative justice that says it can't be a victim. You know one thing about restorative justice: nobody thinks even the greatest proponents of it that it can be appropriate. For every conceivable crime or even every actual crime, there is just going to be crimes, and I think this kind of wide spread fraud that affects you know hundreds of thousands of people, you ' get a hundred thousand people in in a room to try to work, How to how to make that up. I mean you have multiple victims. I think we, sort of not exactly an approximation of restorative justice, but a baby step towards it in the
again. State um thing where the doctor tell the gymnasts and then in the trial, the in the sentencing process. Each victim got a chance to express to the Vict, impact statements yeah there in the impact statements about what happened to them and and how it affected them. You know that case where there are multiple victims, but still s efficient, small number of victims that it's possible to even engage in, little baby step towards an actual restorative process. But then you know, you can't do that in cases of widespread fraud or in cases where it really is society, that's the victim and not a identifiable person. In that case, you just have to
use. Whatever other approach, you think is most effective Anna and I think in that in those for those kinds of cases I probably agree with you that you consequentialism is the right way to handle it. Nobody has interest in societies collapse. Our airplanes flying out of the sky, and so you have to address that in the most effective way that you can right, but the restorative I'm still is consequential right. You're you're asking the victim to give an account of the consequent as for him or her, and the consequences going forward. That is so like you're at you're at your you care in this case, what the victim wants to happen to the perpetrator, to some degree and if the victim, let's say the victim, is against the death penalty and would have her suffering compounded if her child murderer, what were killed
then, in a restorative paradigm, you want that taken into account 'cause, all things being equal. You want to salute you be to be better off rather than worse. Right but again, I I think there are consequentialist benefits and I think you could defend restorative justice from uh really consequentialist perspective. The way I approach it is recognize recognize embrace, embrace the consequentialist benefits. But, to me, there's also separate benefits of just justice like I do think it's. The most just outcome come in a particular case, even if it didn't lead to the best outcome from a consequentialist perspective, I would still think it's something that we ought to embrace just for justice reason that's where our med ethics collide. Now it's which one of those happy. This is the thing. This is why I wish it would.
A little more widespread of a movement that it is it happens to, I think, can have both features. It happens to be, uh in many cases, will lead to the best consequences for both society and for the people involved and be most just when it functions. If eh typically, but I I in a way that I think you don't separate those two kinds of benefits yeah Why do you feel the need to separate them and because it seems the need to separate them, would only be evident if you could find a case where justice, the the thing seeming just was not a matter of the good effects of it seeming so
on the minds of all involved and on the future. Behavior of people like ourselves, right, like like justice, justice matters because it matters to people yeah. I mean at this point I think, in the the second time you came on right. We had this. We had a version of this discussion, except it took like three hours yeah this could this could be two hours on this point. I at a certain point: consequentialism and the kind of you that I'm talking about start to merge in a way that the distinct between them seem it's very hard to identify. I guess the kind of case that I'm talking about be one where the victim feels satisfied. The community feels satisfied, but maybe the outcome, isn't optimal for society large, it's it's not destructive for society at large, but it's
optimal there was an optimal outcome that the The relevant parties involved didn't reach. And had that been the out, you know, maybe that the victims in the offender is in the ' the family members would have been less satisfied, but society would be better off in that kind of case, I would still I would still endorse the restorative, approach, even though it led to a less optimal outcome. Although again, I think that often it leads to the batter out. But even if it didn't as long as the people involved achieved a kind of resolution that felt right for them. I think that that has have intrinsic value over and above whatever consequences it has for those people and for society at large right right. Well, so I
respect your smuggling in the collective benefit of focusing on the. Visuals in this case. We all recognize we live in a world. Where is occasionally, we are going to be the individuals who should be treated as individuals and shouldn't just be part of some vast calculation that takes society at large as the the locus of moral concern. So we wanted, of that world. We think that there's a good to society in the end whether the calculation seems to work out or not, by treating people as individuals and their own case, but also we're not you're, not spelling out what the difference is
when the optimal solution for society and what was achieved in this case, and if that difference were great enough well, then we'd all be forced to recognize that you know that the price was too high. That has to be like a hair's breadth. Yeah. I mean I agree with that, but I do think that there is a so if the price was too high. That's the that's the key right. There can be a price. There can be a consequential, its price for restorative justice, but Icq. I I. I don't think that price should be too high as society. So if, if the price is from a consequentialist perspective for society is going to be too high for the restorative come then I think yeah. Then you have to go with the consequences at that point where I think we disagree. If we disagree about this at all, I don't know I
you committed to even any price a tiny price is not worth paying for. Or what would otherwise seem like a just outcome for the people involved, and I'm willing to pay some price just not too high a price. You know where that boundary is, is bank. I think I'm I'm I'm willing to acknowledge that there's a there's, a price paid to just having to figure out what the price is. There's a price to be paid for not catering to our local sense of justice in many cases, and- and I think when in doubt it makes sense to be willing to absorb those prices so as to status by the people, who you absolutely no or involve Dan, who are the most salient victims you know like
the rounding error should always happen in the direction of helping people get what they think they want in the local case. It actually does can a wind back to the apparent justice in a lot of those you to. Videos right, whereas like I- can recognize that in a better society, none of those videos would be possible, because the bully would not have had the opportunity to misbehave and certain a wouldn't want to miss behavior or wouldn't want to take advantage of a weaker person right and the weaker person wouldn't have had to prove his courage in defending himself, and my consequentialist picture would have to account for all that is lost in addition to all of its gained. When, when you, when all that changes- and so it's it consider in a perfectly well ordered society, where courage is no longer necessary on some level what is lost,
when we no longer have to develop courage? We would want to in the service of of some higher ideal. At that point, we want to create artificial circumstances by which we develop courage, because we would think that courage is probably still important. Ultimately, you part of living a good life. I you know the restorative justice thing. I was curious, what you thought of because I think you are somebody that likes to win you get into conflicts, handle them yourself. Meat out rough justice, yeah exactly or complicate my life by trying yeah exactly right like you didn't want to just have a social media fight with Ezra Klein. You wanted to hash it out and now maybe it didn't workout in that case, but that impulse two
try to resolve it in to try to address the grievances that you felt in that he might have felt like that's, that's a good impulse. That's, I think something that is worth preserving an it's just something that is absent in how we handle criminal conflicts and even conflicts at lower levels. I mean restorative justice The schools is something new and and really pot. It's a real positive development. For handling the kinds of conflicts that inevitably arise in school. I mean we're just not going to have that environment where there are no bullies but You can have an environment where the ten is it a bully, is handled in a
different way and where the bullies have to face up to what they've done they have to face up to victims. They have to face up to other kids, and that's you know that there's there's a lot of Ben it's just in terms of solidarity and community, and the way norms and boundaries get clarified. When you have these kinds of face to face personal interactions, you start to understand where other people are coming from and understand what the constru, in some behavior should be in a way that just doesn't you can't get if you're just suspended from school for a week. You know that then you just get further alienated and your grievances, just get raider and if your ex, Caldwell now you're out on the street, and it's nothing good is going to happen from that, so I think there's a lot.
One of the things I think honor cultures get that we don't is some of the benefits that can come from conflicts. Just in terms of bringing the community together and in terms of refine norms of what's acceptable and What isn't a lot of times that, can only really be internalized when you're you have these face to face, encounters yeah. Well, that's one thing: we seem to be lacking, in which you might have specifics in your book that I didn't notice, but none are coming readily to mind now, but it seems like our cultures often have some mechanism by which someone can can re enter the the tribe of the society in good standing, having done something dishonorable or in shameful, and it's one of the advantages of having
very long and powerful levers to pull even if they're, anchored to something that seems imaginary, like honor war or a you know, religious taboo or something else is you can have rituals of expiation that allows someone to cut a reboot the hard drive and get their lives back together in a kind of in a radical and in the community yeah. Absolutely I mean this is something that we lack as a society. Not only do we have do we lack way of re integrating offenders back into their community and back into society? We actually make it harder right. You we have that the Box of and that they have to check that they've committed a FED offense in order to get a job and then a lot of people just won't hire them because they hi this is after they've paid their debt and serve their time and they're still being punished our or it that that there's the society is still making it
figure out for them to re, enter the community and survive without committing more crimes and in honor cultures and in restorative justice. Restorative approaches there are. There is always a stage for real integrating the offender within the community once the the sentence has been served or the compensation has been achieved. And everybody satisfied. They also devote resource is to reintegrating the offender and making them a valuable part of the community. Enabling them to contribute to the community, maybe in ways that they didn't before and yeah. That's not, something we pay any attention to. In fact, we place obstacles on that happening.
And again that's one of the great benefits of restorative justice is that it does have that stage. It has the stage of determining guilt and innocence. The stage of determining the sentence or the outcome the resolution of the conflict and then the stage of reintegrating the offender. How He was a moral philosopher, think about forgiveness and the restoration of a person's identity in societies. I guess so, let's just sharpen it up with him with an actual example of it. What do you think happen to someone like Google, let's say Harvey Weinstein if he
He genuinely he takes responsibility in so far as we can make sense of that philosophically for his crimes and near crimes, and just six to reenter society with a genuine intention to repair some of the damage. He's done. What is moral philosophy and your focus on it? do for your papers, intuitions about what society should allow in that case. Well, so Harvey Weinstein is a little bit of a tough case because, first of all it does seem hard to imagine him taking responsibility in the way that you described in a sincere way and also, I don't know the extent of his offenses, but let me give Related example- so you know this guy Dan Harmon, who does
chicken and who is the showrunner for community that that that show so he was called out also for one me to buy a by writer who is on community for- being for for sexual harassment. Essentially he harassed her at as one of his writers for a year or a couple years and she called him out on on Twitter and he has a podcast and he went on the podcast, an he. He just like it. I guess he spent nine minutes. If you listen to it, it's pretty interesting describing what he had done, taking full responsibility, describing the ways in which he understands now that he harmed the the writer and not wanting not asking for forgiveness but just
college Ising and holding himself accountable for it, and so he does that the podcast goes out and she she both forgave him publicly and she forgave him privately or they talked privately. He gave her a personal apology and they passed it out and it's a girl. It's it's that and then that's that seems like a perfect example of how, when you actually bring the people together, you have this outcome. That is satisfying for the person who was prime. Early harmed and away for the offender to really reflect on what it is that they've done and take responsibility for, and I don't know what the analog would that he for Harvey Weinstein doing then again can I'm not exactly sure
a ninety minute, part right. It was exactly you might have to be like you and you have to do like a video of himself or something basing himself in some way I don't know but at, but that seems like a on a smaller scale may be it was surely an example of exactly how this kind of thing could be handled and once it is handled that way and- and she was very clear on twitter- that it's important for her to publicly forgive him, and he it was important for him to publicly affirm the wrong that he did and why it was wrong. And why it was harmful. Now that message goes out to the community that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. It doesn't mean that you're banned for life. You know it doesn't mean that you have I because it because if you have no hope, if you have no hope of then what,
incentive. Do you have of even trying to make up for what you've done if nobody's going to ever pay attention to you or if everybody is to condemn you until you go to your grave yeah. It's interesting 'cause. It feels like we're in a culture where are for many things there. There is no hope right, so we just we close the door to any possible future. This person has among us. Or comparatively minor indiscretions are or even things that in a previous generation, weren't even thought to be indiscretions. And then then you have other people who find a very different door having misbehaved terribly, but you know that they did not only becomes a non issue. It becomes the basis for their future contribution to society. So, for instance, I I just did a podcast. If you park
back with this guy Christian Picciolini, who was a former NEO Nazi skinhead and in his life is a NEO Nazi skinhead, did a lot worse than than harass people, and he was just going out and kicking people unconscious with his steel toed boots. Regular it's actually a miracle that he didn't wind up in prison for a good long time and he was behaving in the in the most extreme way a short of murder for years and yet now he's taking of someone who's who is a deprogrammer of in most cases, NEO, Nazis and white supremacists and he gives TED talks and he comes on my podcast and he's been profiled on sixty minutes. He said he's like darling of liberal society now, because he's turned his
around and is now giving back, but it's interesting to consider that that how hard that would be for someone who's misbehavior is actually is, is by any measure. Less sinister strikes me as as hard were Louis C k or something tech yeah like Charlie rose or some I mean a lot harbi once you might be saying the Barlow High, but at me strangely, would seem like it would be harder to prove your sincerity in a culpa, if you're Charlie rose then if you were a you know, a NEO nazi skinhead covered with swastika tattoos who has a change of heart, yeah I mean so part of it. Also is the good and you should, I think, embrace those as of the consequences, a consequentialist, the good that he can do there He can reach young white, supremacists or proto white supremacists in a way that other people can't
There's an analog here with people with gang violence like the most effective programs. That reduce gang violence recruit former gang member, 'cause they're, the ones that have the sufficient respect of people involved that they'll actually listen to them, and so you know this guy hi that you had on he can. He can do a ton of good and if you as you, as you say, it's easy for you for us to see the sincerity. What he's doing, because of how extreme, how extremely messed up his worldview was before and because of the severity of his behavior, just how immoral it was, and so it's easy to see that he has changed and it's easier perhaps to welcome the kinds of effects that he has now. That
he has been redeemed in this particular way. It's a little harder? You know we see Kay Gonna go around go around and start preaching to young comics to not whip their decks out right, like that's, not that's not going to have the same effect does suggest a possible next comedy special. He could attempt. He cared scared straight version of look what happens, but you know I don't know. I think I we're early in this me to process. But it's it's early, but it does seem like people tend to rebound from these kinds of things. Eventually, and maybe it take longer than we'd like for some of these people, based on what we think the severity of their offenses were. But
Americans do like a comeback story. They do like a redemption story. I wasn't expecting to talk about me with you here, but I'm interested to know where you would draw the line here, because I think there's a line. I don't know where it is, but there's a line to the left of which we're not going to see any of these people again if you're on the right side of that line, you will have a comeback, and I I think I I suspect, because of how he responded in because of the nature of the offenses. Louis CK's on the on the right side of that line, I mean, and also given that he he was a comic, but I would expect that Charlie rose and Kevin Spacey, and I'm certainly Harvey Weinstein or on the left side of that line, and there will be no come back yeah. I mean that I would certainly bet on Louis CK, making a comeback Charlie rose, I mean it's also a question of what they have to offer the world. And I think Louis CK can incorporate what he did-
it into his art in a way that people will find ultimately appealing, but Charlie rose come back and do more of those interviews that were already getting kind of tired at the time. So I mean part of the part of the Asian whether this is fair or not is well. What's the benefit that can come from you know, typically or in terms of what kind of norms, you can broadcast star of the ways in which it would be healthy, for everybody involved is to see you take responsibility an be reintegrated into the community and with some Charlie rose who's already on the backside of his career, it just it's a little harder to to imagine. But I could imagine a sort of a younger version of Charlie rose in the earlier part of his career. Again. I don't exactly know what Charlie rose
and I know he was creepy and I know a pot sex. I he was accused of sexual her, but when he was an accused of sexual assault, was he on not that a I'm aware of no? It was, but it was just kind of just the professional impediment this posed to so many people working under him and me was just he was kind of a way across the line in terms of the power imbalance and the harassment side of this thing in a way to lose a It wasn't, but I was like like Kevin Spacey is the user example, because it's easy to see that he could could he could have done many more movies and many more seasons of house of cards or whatever was, and the people perceive a real artistic loss. There are men, they would. They would want Kevin Spacey be bad to be back in film for at least another decade, but I don't think there's any chance of that happening, I would put the chance at near zero for that
I mean maybe yeah, I don't know gun to my head. Will Kevin Spacey ever appear in a in a film or tv show again in a film made in the United States. Eastern european countries, Blank is an interesting case because I think by today's standards at me, you know what one would have thought even yesterday standards he should not have had a career at all. After that I mean that was what's alleged in his case is completely insane I think actually this this. Actually this does Connecticut or print absolution yeah. I could yeah yeah so so take me there. It hasn't his victim forgiven him. And doesn't she think that his travel ban he's, been petitioning the judge to lift the ban for a long time, and they refused to do it again. Out of this idea of justice, I mean you know,
it's hard to even defend on consequentialist standards, because it's not like he poses a current, danger to the world or that people will see him being allowed back in the United States and say: oh, I guess it's ok for me to I'm have sex with a thirteen year old and Jack, Nicholson's hot tub, drug and sodomized. Thirteen year old and uh yeah. So that's a that's a question of where that's an easy case, where her wishes weren't taken in account after many many years. You know of her trying, I think, you're, on the wrong side of this. This is a perfect example where the victims wishes and even meet a person's capacity or like the likelihood of re offending, is not the right measurement of John
Is this a matter? I think if, if you're someone who now again, I'm assuming that what is alleged here is is in fact what happened. But let's grant me that that he actually did drug and anally raped a, I think, was a thirteen year old or fourteen year old. If you do that, whether or not it seems likely you are going to do again. You know, based on you know, you're age or anything else, the society has an interest in making an example of you sure, but society has made an example of him right, I'm in so I I. I don't think that if the VIC damn had. This had wanted to do this two years. To the fact that I would have different opinion about this, but now we're talking about forty years after the fact. Thirty years after the fact where the Victim has had plenty of time to think about it
and to end now? What she wants, I think, has to be taken into serious account. Also part of the problem is that he never admitted did he admit anything or there's. The has been no mea culpa from him right I don't know the details of the case. I know he he fled. So that's part of that Another part of the problem is that he didn't. He did not take responsibility a way that you would want somebody who's being reintegrated to take responsibility, and I think he's doing out for legal reasons, perhaps and who knows what's up private interactions. They've had if they've had any at all. I have no idea, but but yeah I mean that's one where I don't think it's a no brainer, but I do think this idea that we couldn't take her wishes into account at all. That seems completely wrong to me right. So this is the difference between our moral philosophy's. I want to see roman
in the next justice porn Video- and you want him to come back to the yuan- make movies from the comfort of his home in Beverly Hills. No, I mean like I could see he could be in the next justice porn video getting his ass kicked and then also make moot yes, they should be in the same movie exclusive you could integrate them into the same project seem exactly that's the next Roman Polanski joint. Well, I will pay to see that and to hear it reviewed on your podcast, which you can you guys do so that some of your most delightful work, the movie reviews that you and David do so. I recommend that to our listeners, Well, that's what I really wish it was is a movie review podcast, because I love film and I love going doing deep, dives, so so yeah well, thanks for having me on SAM. Yes, it's a pleasure just to
Tell people where to find you? What do you want them to know a twitter address or anything else at timler? Just my first name is my: is my twitter handle as the kids call it, or do they even call it that I don't even know I've, no idea the thirty. As far as I can tell, and right on twitter they can go to. Tammy summers- com- that's my web page and please consider Purchase saying why honor matters which should be available in bookstores and on Amazon and various other online sites, it's a book that I spent a lot of time working on and I'm fairly proud of so yeah well with justification. So I recommend it. Thank you. So thank you, timler. We will continue disagreeing in public on your podcast, next time. That sounds great thanks him. If you find this podcast Bible. There are many ways you can support it. You can review it
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Transcript generated on 2019-11-14.