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Old 11th August 2017, 02:45 PM   #1
Thor 2
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Punishment

Inspired by some of the comments in The Big Dog's thread about atheists thinking other atheists immoral, and the fear of punishment keeping theists in line, I wonder about our apparent need to inflict punishment.

Is this a uniquely human need, (do other animals have it?), and is it common in all our cultures? Is it driven by religion to some extent and stronger in cultures that believe in a punishing god?

Not to get confused here we must think about the desire to punish, as a separate issue from the need to have deterrents to prevent crime.
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Old 11th August 2017, 03:06 PM   #2
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I think... (and this is in very general, very broad, very lose terms) human behavior is based on individual understanding of cause and effect which could be called "Fear of punishment" in some circumstances.
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Old 11th August 2017, 03:33 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Inspired by some of the comments in The Big Dog's thread about atheists thinking other atheists immoral, and the fear of punishment keeping theists in line, I wonder about our apparent need to inflict punishment.

Is this a uniquely human need, (do other animals have it?), and is it common in all our cultures? Is it driven by religion to some extent and stronger in cultures that believe in a punishing god?

Not to get confused here we must think about the desire to punish, as a separate issue from the need to have deterrents to prevent crime.
Well, I could be wrong, but my understanding is that some apes and related families do shun other members of their group or tribe, so I could certainly believe that's a form of punishment. Humans did and do that exact thing too. I have read that shunning in relatively small groups or societies was pretty effective form of behavior adjustment or group cohesion/conforming.
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Old 11th August 2017, 03:34 PM   #4
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It's not fear of punishment, but rather fear of consequences, which is a logical consequence of having self awareness and imagination.
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Old 11th August 2017, 03:39 PM   #5
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No scientific proof, but I would think fear of punishment as a tool works many times better when you add in enticement of reward.
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Old 11th August 2017, 04:13 PM   #6
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At the risk of seeming to labour the point I am talking about our need to inflict punishment and get gratification from that, as distinct from punishing as a deterrent.

I see this as part my own makeup as well. Whether it is seeing the bad guy get what is coming to him in a movie or in real life. I see it as a flaw in my character and wonder if this attitude is learned to some degree or entirely a natural part of my psychological makeup. If learned what has my earlier exposure to religion played some part in this?
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Old 11th August 2017, 04:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
At the risk of seeming to labour the point I am talking about our need to inflict punishment and get gratification from that, as distinct from punishing as a deterrent.

I see this as part my own makeup as well. Whether it is seeing the bad guy get what is coming to him in a movie or in real life. I see it as a flaw in my character and wonder if this attitude is learned to some degree or entirely a natural part of my psychological makeup. If learned what has my earlier exposure to religion played some part in this?
If it helps I had pretty much zero exposure to religion growing up.

I've never had any major gratification from seeing sickos get punished for what they have done.

More relief that they are in a position that they can longer do it

Probably didn't explain that very well
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Old 11th August 2017, 07:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Is this a uniquely human need, (do other animals have it?)
After my neighbors yelled at their dog, he left a single poop in the center of each room of the house. Punishment, or revenge? Either way, it was quite deliberate.
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Old 11th August 2017, 07:50 PM   #9
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I've always sort of figured the desire to punish is largely human, and the fact that most religions include divine punishment is a telltale sign of its human genesis...while at the same time the Christian virtue of loving one's enemy, etc., reveals a certain level of greatness independent of what one believes about gods and stuff.
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Old 11th August 2017, 09:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
At the risk of seeming to labour the point I am talking about our need to inflict punishment and get gratification from that, as distinct from punishing as a deterrent.

I see this as part my own makeup as well. Whether it is seeing the bad guy get what is coming to him in a movie or in real life. I see it as a flaw in my character and wonder if this attitude is learned to some degree or entirely a natural part of my psychological makeup. If learned what has my earlier exposure to religion played some part in this?
Well... I think approval of the group is a strong survival instinct but also the sense of justice and fairness, which has also been demonstrated in other ape families, is a strong survival and group instinct too, so I think it's normal to have that sense of fairness and justice be a driving emotion in keeping the group cohesive.
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Old 12th August 2017, 06:44 AM   #11
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Raises interesting questions.

We know that even very primitive peoples have "rules" of sorts, usually referred to as "taboos". Things that they avoid lest they "anger the spirits". I don't recall much discussion of the types of punishments such people doled out for violations, but I do seem to recall that "shunning" was employed, and that this could be disasterous for the person or family.

Later and more advanced civilizations came up with more and more "laws" and more ways to punish folks for violations. In some cases, fines were levied. More stringent punishments such as imprisonment, public humiliation, corporal punishment, torture, and execution were pretty common ranging from ancient times up to the current day.

We know that large crowds flocked to public torture and executions. In our own country, within relatively recent times, we know that lynchings drew large crowds. (Photographs of these events were circulated as "lynching post cards" and sold briskly)

Even now, we are aware that the "right" leans heavily towards the idea of retributive punishment for most crimes, and that ideas of rehabilitation are considered "coddling criminals" and being"soft on crime".

I think it likely that the idea of punishment is part of human nature and is likely rather atavistic. We have built-in notions of justice and fairness...This has been demonstrated even with very young children and the redress of injustice or unfairness often involves a quick "striking out" form of punishment.

How often do we hear someone say, "they got what was coming to them" or "they deserved everything they got"?
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Old 12th August 2017, 09:52 AM   #12
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hitler in heaven ?

well in christian theology
anything done before ''saving''
don't count
and if adolf was ''saved'' after crushing the glass vile
but before the head shot and the shot was a twitch not voluntary
then he gets in to heaven as saved under the rules
joe manofsteel could qualify also if he had the thought

so does the effect of christian ''saving'' have any effect on crime or evil doers
if the timing is correct [''end timing''] to negate any sin crime or evil deeds
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Old 12th August 2017, 02:26 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Well... I think approval of the group is a strong survival instinct but also the sense of justice and fairness, which has also been demonstrated in other ape families, is a strong survival and group instinct too, so I think it's normal to have that sense of fairness and justice be a driving emotion in keeping the group cohesive.

I am just wondering if a sense of fairness and justice is not the whole picture and a dash of sadism is in there too.

Look at the number of movies made where the bad guys get severely dealt with - "Man On Fire" comes to mind. Do we not get pleasure from watching the bad guys get creamed?
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Old 12th August 2017, 02:58 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Raises interesting questions.

We know that even very primitive peoples have "rules" of sorts, usually referred to as "taboos". Things that they avoid lest they "anger the spirits". I don't recall much discussion of the types of punishments such people doled out for violations, but I do seem to recall that "shunning" was employed, and that this could be disasterous for the person or family.

Later and more advanced civilizations came up with more and more "laws" and more ways to punish folks for violations. In some cases, fines were levied. More stringent punishments such as imprisonment, public humiliation, corporal punishment, torture, and execution were pretty common ranging from ancient times up to the current day.

We know that large crowds flocked to public torture and executions. In our own country, within relatively recent times, we know that lynchings drew large crowds. (Photographs of these events were circulated as "lynching post cards" and sold briskly)

Even now, we are aware that the "right" leans heavily towards the idea of retributive punishment for most crimes, and that ideas of rehabilitation are considered "coddling criminals" and being"soft on crime".

I think it likely that the idea of punishment is part of human nature and is likely rather atavistic. We have built-in notions of justice and fairness...This has been demonstrated even with very young children and the redress of injustice or unfairness often involves a quick "striking out" form of punishment.

How often do we hear someone say, "they got what was coming to them" or "they deserved everything they got"?

You're right, it does raise some interesting questions.

Public executions did draw large crowds and may continue to do so in countries like Saudi Arabia where they still happen. Why is this so?

A feature of our legal systems even today is that punishment is administered depending on the severity of the consequences of a crime, rather that the severity of the crime itself. After a verdict of guilt is handed down in some cases, the severity of the sentence is determined after the impact of the crime is considered. There is some talk of it being of benefit to the victims if the severity of the sentence is high, allowing a feeling of closure. I wonder about this. Persisting with this approach makes efforts towards rehabilitation difficult and results in massive incarceration as we see in the USA today.

Perhaps there is something contradictory in the observation that the severest punishment of execution, is carried out in some of the most religious countries. One would think the people of those countries would be content to let God administer the punishment, after the villain has died.
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Old 15th August 2017, 08:47 AM   #15
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If some sort of post-death punishment is supposed to keep theists in line, then it is quite obvious that such techniques have a very poor record of success.

After all, there are any number of theists who have done all sorts of horrible things and they have not let a little thing like the possibility of a post-death punishment deter them from actually doing these horrible things.
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Old 15th August 2017, 10:56 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
Raises interesting questions.

We know that even very primitive peoples have "rules" of sorts, usually referred to as "taboos". Things that they avoid lest they "anger the spirits". I don't recall much discussion of the types of punishments such people doled out for violations, but I do seem to recall that "shunning" was employed, and that this could be disasterous for the person or family.

Later and more advanced civilizations came up with more and more "laws" and more ways to punish folks for violations. In some cases, fines were levied. More stringent punishments such as imprisonment, public humiliation, corporal punishment, torture, and execution were pretty common ranging from ancient times up to the current day.
As you know, from your avatar, it's just a matter of time before Cthulu rises and we will all be punished.
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We know that large crowds flocked to public torture and executions. In our own country, within relatively recent times, we know that lynchings drew large crowds. (Photographs of these events were circulated as "lynching post cards" and sold briskly)
I believe we used to have the death penalty right in Connecticut. We had a death penalty but only one person was executed since the 50's and he had to use every recourse to make that happen. He insisted he was bad and needed to go (he did do a very bad thing). Death row inmates can't mix with the general population and have that symbol over their head. I don't believe in state sponsored killing but some crimes are so heinous the criminals should have it rough. Only people that are slam dunk guilty should get this but if they still are alive they can be released which can't be made right if they are already dead.

CT has recently quit the death penalty and all former members now enjoy the rights of the regular prisoners. Also I believe that prosecutors had a tool they lost for giving victim's family members a break from attending an ugly trial.
Quote:
Even now, we are aware that the "right" leans heavily towards the idea of retributive punishment for most crimes, and that ideas of rehabilitation are considered "coddling criminals" and being"soft on crime".
Quote:
I think it likely that the idea of punishment is part of human nature and is likely rather atavistic. We have built-in notions of justice and fairness...This has been demonstrated even with very young children and the redress of injustice or unfairness often involves a quick "striking out" form of punishment.

How often do we hear someone say, "they got what was coming to them" or "they deserved everything they got"?
Children should never, ever suffer corporal punishment like spanking but with consensual adults it may be different. My mind hasn't been made up.
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Old 15th August 2017, 02:42 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Crossbow View Post
If some sort of post-death punishment is supposed to keep theists in line, then it is quite obvious that such techniques have a very poor record of success.

After all, there are any number of theists who have done all sorts of horrible things and they have not let a little thing like the possibility of a post-death punishment deter them from actually doing these horrible things.

This seems so obviously true and yet some churches still persist with the threats of a fiery hell. Sure there are those "happy clappy" type churches around these days who don't seem to dwell on this so much but the RCC, ("The One True Church" according to some.), among others do.

Interesting the way the RCC deals with the concept of punishment after death. It is not a clear case of up to heaven or down to hell, they have this purgatory thing in the middle. As I understand it purgatory is a place of suffering also were you get cleansed before you go upstairs. I may be a bit cynical but I think the RCC made up this stuff because they could see there was money in it. I digress however.
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Old 15th August 2017, 02:54 PM   #18
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I guess punishment is a matter of timing and relationships. I've certainly seen lions mete out some hefty physical blows to their off-spring when they've annoyed them, but whether that is punishment or a warning it would be difficult to assess, I reckon. I'll ask my daughter, who is an animal behaviour scientist.
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Old 15th August 2017, 02:55 PM   #19
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Getting back to the theme about the need to have, be seen to have, and to see punishment:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics...utions/379044/

Quote:
In modern America, the constitutional has replaced the spiritual. Only after a laborious appeals process and a flurry of last-minute pleas for clemency can the condemned die, and even then, it must be swiftly and without pain or suffering. What defines "public" has also changed over time. Each state now has different protocols for who can observe an execution behind the prison walls. The families of both the victims and the condemned are often present. Virginia keeps a list of 20 to 30 volunteer witnesses, some of whom attend multiple times. Citizens can even participate in some states: In lieu of a full-time position, Florida pays members of the public $150 to anonymously execute one another.

Does this mean citizens get to throw the switch?

Further:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_a...execution.html

Quote:
Who may witness an execution?


In some states, only prison officials and relatives or friends of the condemned may view the execution. In others, prison officials are required to assemble 10 or so witnesses of their choosing, which may include reporters, relatives, or members of the public. In the majority of states, however, the warden is obliged to admit members of the press and has discretion as to other witnesses. Some of these states also require that a minister and/or the prisoner's attorney be permitted to attend. In Arkansas, reporters may not publish any detail of the execution other than the person's name, time of death, and that he was executed.


In the last decade or two, a number of states--including Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington--have passed laws giving victims' relatives a right to attend.

Interesting bit of progress.
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Old 15th August 2017, 02:57 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I guess punishment is a matter of timing and relationships. I've certainly seen lions mete out some hefty physical blows to their off-spring when they've annoyed them, but whether that is punishment or a warning it would be difficult to assess, I reckon. I'll ask my daughter, who is an animal behaviour scientist.

Would be interesting to hear her input.
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Old Yesterday, 02:47 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I am just wondering if a sense of fairness and justice is not the whole picture and a dash of sadism is in there too.
I think there are two mixed issues in the formulation of the initial question:
(1) Do other animals use punishment?
(2) Do other animals feel pleasure when they are inflicting a punishment?

(1) Of course, yes. Almost all mammals –at least‒ inflict some pain to others –usually babies and young ones‒ in order to avoid some “undesirable” behaviour. This is most evident in big apes.
(2) Almost certainly they feel some degree of pleasure in doing so. Otherwise punishment wouldn’t be so extent in mammal species.

I lead aside other forms to inflict pain to other species that are usually understand as chase training, etc.

No. Humans are not the only sadistic species. Other different thing is that humans are the more sophisticated sadists and that we have extended our particular pleasure of pain –both inflicting and suffering it‒ in a unique manner. We are the kings of the creation for better and worse.

For Nietzsche all the paraphernalia of Justice is a masquerade. Hypocritical defenders of Law and Order are simply applying his resentment against those that don’t like to follow the flock. It is a suggestive idea.

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Old Yesterday, 03:29 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I think there are two mixed issues in the formulation of the initial question:
(1) Do other animals use punishment?
(2) Do other animals feel pleasure when they are inflicting a punishment?

(1) Of course, yes. Almost all mammals –at least‒ inflict some pain to others –usually babies and young ones‒ in order to avoid some “undesirable” behaviour. This is most evident in big apes.
(2) Almost certainly they feel some degree of pleasure in doing so. Otherwise punishment wouldn’t be so extent in mammal species. ......
I'm not so sure it is as simple as this. When a baboon whacks a miscreant youngster, or a lion swats an annoying cub with its paw, is that punishment (ie a response to past behaviour), or is it just a way of altering future behaviour (ie "stop doing that")?

Animal behaviouralists may well have looked at this subject, and I'm waiting for my daughter to send me links to any papers she knows on the subject.
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Old Yesterday, 05:45 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I'm not so sure it is as simple as this. When a baboon whacks a miscreant youngster, or a lion swats an annoying cub with its paw, is that punishment (ie a response to past behaviour), or is it just a way of altering future behaviour (ie "stop doing that")?

Animal behaviouralists may well have looked at this subject, and I'm waiting for my daughter to send me links to any papers she knows on the subject.
En attendant you can see a classic of behaviourism: B. F. Skinner: Beyond Freedom and Dignity, two chapters dedicated to punishment: https://archive.org/details/Beyond_Freedom_and_Dignity
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Old Yesterday, 06:05 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
En attendant you can see a classic of behaviourism: B. F. Skinner: Beyond Freedom and Dignity, two chapters dedicated to punishment: https://archive.org/details/Beyond_Freedom_and_Dignity
Thanks for this. I'll take a look later.
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Old Yesterday, 02:25 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
En attendant you can see a classic of behaviourism: B. F. Skinner: Beyond Freedom and Dignity, two chapters dedicated to punishment: https://archive.org/details/Beyond_Freedom_and_Dignity

Thanks for the link but I could not read it. I did however Google Skinner and found the following:

Quote:
Punishment

Skinner saw punishment as the logical consequence of an unscientific analysis of behavior as well as the tradition of "freedom and dignity". Since individuals are seen to be making choices they are then able to be punished for those choices. Since Skinner denies the existence of free will, he therefore argued against punishment which he saw to be ineffective in controlling behavior.

Alternatives to Punishment

Skinner notes that the previous solutions to punishment are often not very useful and may create additional problems. Permissiveness, the metaphor of mid-wifery (or maieutics), "guidance", a dependence on things, "changing minds", all contain either problems or faulty assumptions about what is going on.

Skinner argues that this misunderstanding of control championed by the defenders of freedom and dignity "encourage[s] the misuse of controlling practices and block progress towards a more effective technology of behavior."
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Old Yesterday, 03:27 PM   #26
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Here is my daughter's initial response:

Quote:
I have never heard of any animals being involved in punishment. I think it depends on how you define punishment. If punishment is just an unpleasant experience that is intended to prevent a certain behaviour then the snarl/whack is both a punishment and a warning to stop. However if punishment needs to involve an intention to make another suffer in order to prevent the behaviour then they are different things.

Additionally, punishment in the normal sense would require acceptance of the notion that the one being punished has done something wrong. I don't think there is any evidence that animals other than humans have a sense of 'right and wrong'. That would require morality which I am pretty sure is unique to humans. Also there is often a time delay involved in punishment, ie a person does something that is forbidden and this is later found out and they are punished. Animals tend to respond instantly to what they don't like (therefore seems more like simply a reaction to something they don't like rather than an aim to punish).

There is definitely a difference between reacting negatively to an individuals current action and reacting negatively to past actions (which is what punishment would be). Unless the animal is intelligent enough to associate being treated unpleasantly now, with something they did in the past, there would be no reason for punishment to exist. I don't think there are many animals that could do this, and even if they can it would be very context specific. I think associative learning with a time delay is really difficult, being able to actively think about the past and apply it to the present. The only example I can think of right now is with rodents which can 'think' back to work out what they ate that might have made them sick if they get ill (this is very important to them as they can't vomit up poisons so need to learn really quickly what to avoid, they need to be able to do this with a time delay as, of course, they may have eaten a slow acting poison, so they last thing they ate may not be what made them ill). I know people think that dogs can understand being punished for something they did in the past, eg. if you find they made a mess and you yell at them they look guilty, so people think that is because they knew they did something wrong, but it is actually because they are being submissive because you are yelling, they have no idea why, they think it is something that they are doing now so they try to appease you by acting submissively...

Anyway, I should go to lunch but I will finish by saying that you would not be able to separate the interpretations as it would require knowledge of the actual intentions and thought processes of the 'punisher'. However as punishment is more complex than a simple negative reaction I would always assume it is just the latter. It may be possible to see punishment where none is actually occurring, eg. if you see animals not sharing food with one that didn't share with them earlier that could look like punishment but it can just be a simple foraging strategy.

Sorry this is rambling,can think more another time.
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Old Yesterday, 03:40 PM   #27
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Here is my daughter's initial response:

Thanks MikeG and thanks to your daughter - a thoughtful post.

"Animals tend to respond instantly to what they don't like (therefore seems more like simply a reaction to something they don't like rather than an aim to punish)."

Yes this may be the defining measure of whether something is really punishment.
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Old Yesterday, 10:40 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Thanks for the link but I could not read it.
Can't you open it even in PDF?
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Old Yesterday, 11:36 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Here is my daughter's initial response:
Thanks to your daughter for the comment.
I substantially agree. I accept the behaviourist definition of punishment: “Punishment is [an aversive stimulus=displeasure] used to induce people not to behave in given ways” (Skinner 1971: 64). This kind of contingence is very frequent in the natural world if you replace “people” by “animal”.
Human punishment have some specific features that are absent in animal world. Postponed punishment, for example, as your daughter says. Or moral emotions as shame. They are related with the ability of abstraction and verbal behaviour that we usually call “intelligence” or “morality”. We can say that the punishment among animals is more primary.

“The word punishment is usually confined to contingencies intentionally arranged by other people, who arrange them because the results are reinforcing to them” (Ibid: 63). This is why, according the basic behaviourist explanation, animals and humans feel pleasure in punishing other people: because punishment is successful in avoiding the undesired behaviour –or they think it is so.

Maybe we need to consider other more complex/Nietzschean/Freudian satisfactions. Is there some intrinsic pleasure in infringing pain to others or to ourselves? A Thanatos pulsion? I am sceptical about the appeal to "instincts".

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Old Today, 02:38 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Thanks to your daughter for the comment.
I substantially agree. I accept the behaviourist definition of punishment: “Punishment is [an aversive stimulus=displeasure] used to induce people not to behave in given ways” (Skinner 1971: 64). This kind of contingence is very frequent in the natural world if you replace “people” by “animal”.
Human punishment have some specific features that are absent in animal world. Postponed punishment, for example, as your daughter says. Or moral emotions as shame. They are related with the ability of abstraction and verbal behaviour that we usually call “intelligence” or “morality”. We can say that the punishment among animals is more primary.

“The word punishment is usually confined to contingencies intentionally arranged by other people, who arrange them because the results are reinforcing to them” (Ibid: 63). This is why, according the basic behaviourist explanation, animals and humans feel pleasure in punishing other people: because punishment is successful in avoiding the undesired behaviour –or they think it is so.

Maybe we need to consider other more complex/Nietzschean/Freudian satisfactions. Is there some intrinsic pleasure in infringing pain to others or to ourselves? A Thanatos pulsion? I am sceptical about the appeal to "instincts".

I see this as contradictory and I suspect it is not what you are trying to say. I feel that humans sometimes find punishing others pleasurable because, well it's pleasurable, when the person being punished is disliked intensely enough.

This is why public executions were so popular, and perhaps why relatives of the victims are given seats in executions today in some states. This may also contribute toward the reason for having post conviction hearings, to determine the impact of a crime so punishment can be made to fit. This possibly is uniquely human.
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