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Old 12-02-2006, 12:40 AM   #1
sn0wball
 
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Default Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

Inspired by the thread about the legal status of ghosts, I came to think about the law in 2100 in general. As far as I got the impression from the THS books, this subject is treated pretty conservative. This isn´t unfeasible, the law has been conservative at times. But since THS is about revolutionary and visionary developments in the near future, why not apply this to law. So here is my suggestion to this.

A book with the name of the thread appeared in 1974 in Germany and caused a major uproar among lawyers and legal scholars.

The author suggests that, well, criminal law should be abolished. As a concept it is purely about punishment, which in itself is irrational. There are many theories just why criminals should face punishment and none of them actually work. In fact, people are punsihed because it has always been done that way and nobody can think of anything better to do with them.

Instead it is suggested that criminal behaviour should be treated as a dangerous social illness and treated accordingly. Society has to be protected fromt he effects of that illness and the illness has to be healed.

At first glance, this looks like liberal nonsense, 70ies style. It isn´t. The author intends to treat criminal behaviour with any means necessary and possible. Therapy, both psychologically and psychiatrical and things like forced labour, for example. Even more so, the author does not refrain this harsh threatment to actual criminals. A potential, future criminal may be treated like that, too. Unfair ? Well, punishment has to be fair. Medicine hasn´t, it is supposed to be bitter. This isn´t utopia. Think about poor Alex from Clockwork Orange. But prison isn´t a holiday trip, too.

Of course, whatever one might personally think about this, it wouldn´t have worked in the 70ies and it wouldn´t work now, since we do not know how to effectively combar criminal behaviour, let alone predict future criminal behaviour.

But this will be different in 2100.

In the THS there are effective methods in influencing peoples behaviour. First, there is Memetics. But it does not stop there. There are many psychiatrical drugs to influence people, and these probably don´t have the side effects alike products have today. There are brain implants, monitors, AI advisors, which can be used to help people overcome their anti-social behaviour.

From our perspective this sounds like a 1984 style nightmare. But one doesn´t have to see it that way. In a way, it is a positive approach to crime. It seeks to embetter people. Crime isn´t treated repressively, but preventively.

This also effectively solves the problem with Ghosts and crime of their former selves. Under these doctrines, the law doesn´t care wether it was the same you that did it. But it now can be proven that your specific mind structure is prone to a certain type of crminal behaviour. So, you won´t be punsihed, of course, but therapied. You probably won´t like it, anyway.
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Old 12-02-2006, 01:07 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

Quote:
Originally Posted by sn0wball
The author suggests that, well, criminal law should be abolished. As a concept it is purely about punishment, which in itself is irrational. There are many theories just why criminals should face punishment and none of them actually work. In fact, people are punsihed because it has always been done that way and nobody can think of anything better to do with them.
What's so irrational about punishment? When done right, it can work on animals - for example, when training a dog - and it can certainly work on humans as well. "Do something bad, and something bad will happen to you." In the TS era, more effective was of punishment will exist because more is known about how the human mind works, but the basic principle doesn't have to be unsound.

Quote:
Instead it is suggested that criminal behaviour should be treated as a dangerous social illness and treated accordingly. Society has to be protected fromt he effects of that illness and the illness has to be healed.
"Social Illness" implies that the behavior of the criminal was somehow irrational. But this does not need the case - it is entirely possible that the criminal looked at the potential profits of the crime and at the risks associated with it, and then decided that the potential profit was worth the risk.

Quote:
From our perspective this sounds like a 1984 style nightmare. But one doesn´t have to see it that way. In a way, it is a positive approach to crime. It seeks to embetter people. Crime isn´t treated repressively, but preventively.
I can see some of the more radical societies out there trying that, but it wouldn't fly in the Western World, where one of the basic premises of society is that you can think whatever you want, as long as you don't act on it. "Die Gedanken sind frei" and all that.
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Old 12-02-2006, 03:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

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Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
What's so irrational about punishment? When done right, it can work on animals - for example, when training a dog - and it can certainly work on humans as well. "Do something bad, and something bad will happen to you." In the TS era, more effective was of punishment will exist because more is known about how the human mind works, but the basic principle doesn't have to be unsound.
Yes, it can work. But it does not always. It can also have the opposite effect. And nobody knows why.

It is not based on scientific method. Of course, this is due to the "eye for an eye" form of punishment has developed a few millenia before science. In a way, it is a form of pre-scientific therapy, applied intuitively.

Quote:
"Social Illness" implies that the behavior of the criminal was somehow irrational. But this does not need the case - it is entirely possible that the criminal looked at the potential profits of the crime and at the risks associated with it, and then decided that the potential profit was worth the risk.
There is nothing irrational about a sexual offender raping his victim as well. Criminal behaviour is sociopathic behaviour. And that is why it is dealt with.

Quote:
I can see some of the more radical societies out there trying that, but it wouldn't fly in the Western World, where one of the basic premises of society is that you can think whatever you want, as long as you don't act on it. "Die Gedanken sind frei" and all that.
Oh, this approach isn´t about arbitrarily striking out on the misfits of society just because they have thoughts the majority doesn´t like. You can think whatever you like. It is about your behaviour.

And of course all this would be subject to judicial review. The law enforcement agencies still need proof what you have done. But the emphasis this is on what proof there is about your future behaviour. The difference is in timing. If behaviorial science can proof that someone will be commiting a crime in the very near future, based on what is known about his behaviour in the past, he will be helped.

And please note that it wasn´t the intention of the post to discuss the ethics or the validity of this theory. I want to suggest it as an idea to integrate into THS - where it fits in well, I think. THS is about the novel, the radical, the strange, yet familiar, but also about the ethically ambivalent.
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Old 12-02-2006, 05:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

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Originally Posted by sn0wball
Criminal behaviour is sociopathic behaviour. And that is why it is dealt with.
Criminal behavior can be sociopathic behavior. But it does not have to be.

Trying to defraud your company to get you and your family out of debt does not have to be sociopathic. Neither does committing a crime while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Or trying to cover up a serious mistake one made because that mistake could cost you your career or even result in a prison term. These behaviors are wrong, but don't need to be "sociopathic" according to the definitions I have read.

Quote:
And please note that it wasn´t the intention of the post to discuss the ethics or the validity of this theory. I want to suggest it as an idea to integrate into THS - where it fits in well, I think. THS is about the novel, the radical, the strange, yet familiar, but also about the ethically ambivalent.
Isn't there a space station described in "High Frontier" that uses a similar approach? Or am I misremembering something?
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Old 12-02-2006, 06:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
Isn't there a space station described in "High Frontier" that uses a similar [theraputic] approach? Or am I misremembering something?
You're probably thinking of Fountain-1 (High Frontier, p.122-126).
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Old 12-02-2006, 10:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

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Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
Criminal behavior can be sociopathic behavior. But it does not have to be.
You got me there. Apparently, sociopathy is an outdated concept for certain types of psychological disorders.

What I meant was behaviour that society seriously frowns upon and considers rightout harmful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DryaUnda
You're probably thinking of Fountain-1 (High Frontier, p.122-126).
Looks like they actually beat me in that. From the way it is written, one can assume that the rest of the universe still employs a more traditional approach to crime. But one could also take the Fountian-1 way as a more strict and inhuman application of a generally practised concept.
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Old 12-02-2006, 12:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

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Originally Posted by sn0wball
What I meant was behaviour that society seriously frowns upon and considers rightout harmful.
You're kind of assuming that the society is rational and non-sociopathic itself. If your society decides, for example, that your particular ethnic or geographic sub-group is less deserving of rights than other members, then you can find yourself committing crimes just by doing what other members of your society who aren't part of the reviled sub-group do.
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Old 12-02-2006, 03:45 PM   #8
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

Quote:
Originally Posted by sn0wball
Instead it is suggested that criminal behaviour should be treated as a dangerous social illness and treated accordingly. Society has to be protected fromt he effects of that illness and the illness has to be healed.
[...]
Of course, whatever one might personally think about this, it wouldn´t have worked in the 70ies and it wouldn´t work now, since we do not know how to effectively combar criminal behaviour, let alone predict future criminal behaviour.
In France, a scientificaly accredited commission recently suggested to organize the systematical predictive detection of children prone to developpe criminal attitude in the futur, what caused many protests. This program was not cognate to any plead for a less repressiv policy. It seems likely that this would primarely leads, in a TS context, to treat, if not cure, individuals unhappy to their conditions of living. The easier way to "cure" their sociopathic tendency would then to make them happy with their condition, if the cost of their unsocial behaviour is higher that the "cure". You can cure them by giving wealth and entertainment, or drugs, or by threatening them, whatever... If you think that ones mind is just a collection of memes, then cut off the wrong ones, by any way.
This all leads to a kind of social order where there's nothing like individual responsability. I don't say that punishment is a better response. I just say that such a society, not-so-unlikly to appear in a not-so-far futur, could at best be named brave happy new world. Symmetrically, the more-responsabilisation policy leads to an even more securitarist and repressive society (in today France one of the principal candidate to presidency want the "minority excuse" to be abolished in case of recidivism - that's: minors would be treated as majors). Then what to do? Sometimes, more is less...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jürgen Hubert
What's so irrational about punishment? When done right, it can work on animals - for example, when training a dog - and it can certainly work on humans as well. "Do something bad, and something bad will happen to you." In the TS era, more effective was of punishment will exist because more is known about how the human mind works, but the basic principle doesn't have to be unsound.
Well, there is different ways to train an animal; basicaly, though that could sound a little too behaviourist, they will be spoken of positive reinforcement (when I obey, I get a suggar), and negative one (when I disobey, bipeds beats me). Some people are prone to claim that the first one is not as good as the second, requiering somehow the animal cooperation, and not inconditional submission. But in fact, when an animal act by fear, negative reinforcement works only by being stronger that the contingeant fear, when it seems more logical to show the animal that there's no actual threat. Farther, more complexe what the animal is expected to do, more the cooperative mode will outclass the terrorist one, at least if the animal abilities are requested. Of course if you think you can better compute the use of the animals body than it can, then better lobotomies it. (But I would not see the interest of cyberhorseriding, though some of todays riders would enjoy it, it would solve ALL their problems - said aside).
Then, it seems more rational too to convince a human being that his behaviour is not adequate, or to cure its pathologicaly motivated behaviour, than to threaten him.
Of course, if it's the society who is wrong, it will be more difficult...
And then, of course some people will act intentionaly & consciously wrong; but if they understand their interests, they will not be the easier to catch, I guess. However, this problem is as old as humanity, and will not be soluble in any technological soup, even a medical one.
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Last edited by Khoontshdroos; 12-02-2006 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 12-02-2006, 05:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

Punishment such as incarceration serves at least four purposes:

1. Retributive. The idea here is subject the person to an unpleasant experience, with the idea that in the future they will refrain from illegal activity for fear of being subjected to that unpleasant experience again. I have no idea how often this works, but I suspect it does work sometimes.

2. Preventative. The criminal is kept "off the streets" and thus prevented from being a threat to society.

3. Rehabilitative. This unfortunately happens far less often than it might, but there are a small number of criminals who find resources such as religious or 12 step groups, etc. which help them reform.

4. Justice. This is primarily for the benefit of the victims. Many of them will find it comforting and helpful to know that the perpetrator of the crime is undergoing a unpleasant experience and/or is locked up and prevented from perpetrating more crimes.

Punishment has a number of uses and while our current methods may not be ideal, until we come up with much more effective ways of modifying behaviour and have a society which is able to stomach them, it is probably the best we have.
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Old 12-02-2006, 08:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Pleading For The Abolishment Of Criminal Law - THS style

Quote:
Originally Posted by sn0wball
Inspired by the thread about the legal status of ghosts, I came to think about the law in 2100 in general. As far as I got the impression from the THS books, this subject is treated pretty conservative. This isn´t unfeasible, the law has been conservative at times. But since THS is about revolutionary and visionary developments in the near future, why not apply this to law. So here is my suggestion to this.

A book with the name of the thread appeared in 1974 in Germany and caused a major uproar among lawyers and legal scholars.

The author suggests that, well, criminal law should be abolished. As a concept it is purely about punishment, which in itself is irrational. There are many theories just why criminals should face punishment and none of them actually work. In fact, people are punsihed because it has always been done that way and nobody can think of anything better to do with them.

Instead it is suggested that criminal behaviour should be treated as a dangerous social illness and treated accordingly. Society has to be protected fromt he effects of that illness and the illness has to be healed.

At first glance, this looks like liberal nonsense, 70ies style. It isn´t. The author intends to treat criminal behaviour with any means necessary and possible. Therapy, both psychologically and psychiatrical and things like forced labour, for example. Even more so, the author does not refrain this harsh threatment to actual criminals. A potential, future criminal may be treated like that, too. Unfair ? Well, punishment has to be fair. Medicine hasn´t, it is supposed to be bitter. This isn´t utopia. Think about poor Alex from Clockwork Orange. But prison isn´t a holiday trip, too.

Of course, whatever one might personally think about this, it wouldn´t have worked in the 70ies and it wouldn´t work now, since we do not know how to effectively combar criminal behaviour, let alone predict future criminal behaviour.

But this will be different in 2100.

In the THS there are effective methods in influencing peoples behaviour. First, there is Memetics. But it does not stop there. There are many psychiatrical drugs to influence people, and these probably don´t have the side effects alike products have today. There are brain implants, monitors, AI advisors, which can be used to help people overcome their anti-social behaviour.

From our perspective this sounds like a 1984 style nightmare. But one doesn´t have to see it that way. In a way, it is a positive approach to crime. It seeks to embetter people. Crime isn´t treated repressively, but preventively.

This also effectively solves the problem with Ghosts and crime of their former selves. Under these doctrines, the law doesn´t care wether it was the same you that did it. But it now can be proven that your specific mind structure is prone to a certain type of crminal behaviour. So, you won´t be punsihed, of course, but therapied. You probably won´t like it, anyway.
__________________________________________
If crime is only a disease then criminals can be given any "perscription" that might "cure" them. Saying it is a crime only gives the state the right to administer justice. Saying it is a disease gives the state the right to force peoples own "good" on them.
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