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Alphomism - a belief system for our times.
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The Alphomist view is that the state should not concern itself with punishment. The main reason for this is that the natural reaction of guilt ensures that anyone who breaks one of their sincerely held moral tenets feels wretched, often for very long periods of time. The ‘punishment’ is self administered, it is built into the moral system. There is no need for the state to intervene.

It will doubtless be argued that there are plenty of law-breakers who feel no guilt but if this is so, it is certain that they cannot be punished. Someone convicted of a crime they did not commit, and who therefore feels innocent, sees any applied penalty as torture. Someone who feels morally justified in breaking a particular law probably perceives the penalty as the worthwhile price of martyrdom.

Whereas a court process can assess the presented facts to decide whether or not the accused actually perpetrated the crime it can never reliably decide the state of mind of the convicted person at the time the crime was committed. Happily, there is no need for it to do so.

Some argue, though, that regardless of guilt, criminals have to be ‘punished’ in order to satisfy the desire of the victim for vengeance.

It is certainly true that almost all of us feel real anger at some crimes. If we see a helpless person being attacked the common instinct is to do violence to the aggressor. If one of our loved ones is the victim of wrong doing, we yearn to bring compensatory suffering to the offender.

Of course, these feelings are natural, just as are the urges to settle heated arguments with a punch or to have sex whenever we feel like it. In more primitive times, aggression and frequent copulation were useful for the survival of the species. Happily, these once beneficial but crude responses are now largely regulated. We can see better ways of organising our lives.

So, according to Alphomism, should it be with the drive towards vengeance. As the above arguments suggest, we can never know precisely what goes through the mind of another. We do not have the information on which to base an informed judgement. We should express the feelings of repulsion for the destructive act but recognise the point about guilt. Either the perpetrator knew that they were doing wrong or they did not. If they did, guilt will ‘make them pay’. If they did not, then they cannot be morally blamed.



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