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November 4, 2016 / Congau

Punishment and Free Will

Punishment only makes sense because the free will does not exist.

Our will is bound by whatever circumstances we are in. We did not choose them. Chance leads us from one place to the next and we don’t know clearly what we are doing when we take each step. We are manipulated; lured by rewards or threatened by penalties. Our actions are steered.

The state and the laws also participate in this manipulation, of course they do, for society wants obedient members. It may be a pity that we are not free, but since this is our fate, we might as well give up our freedom to commit crime. Thus the state threatens to punish whoever breaks the law and most of us obey. This is how society works, somehow. Because we are unfortunately not free, we are fortunately not criminals.

Imagine if we were really free and nothing could make us act against our own will. Then punishment would have lost its purpose. The state could have threatened the most draconian measures, but the free person would have continued his independent and lonely way, committed crimes according to whim and ignored society. Luckily we are not free.

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