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Physical Punishment

 
 
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 07:29 pm
The following are some of my wonderings... I'm not actually advocating anything here, I'm just exploring an issue.

As far as I can see, causing physical harm to another person (or animal!) seems to be one of the (if not the) ultimate evil in American (Western?) society. The idea of actually inflicting physical pain on someone, no matter what the crime, seems like an unimaginable barbarism.

Why would it wrong to "beat" a person for driving drunk (or whatever), make sure they'll recover fine, and send them on their way? Why would locking them in a confined area with other criminals for months on end be more fitting?

Why is it "ok" to send a child into timeout, thereby removing them from relationship and enjoyment, yet to give them a small (but memorable) amount of physical pain is looked down upon?

Why is it "ok" to kill a person for their offences, but it is wrong to do so with any physical discomfort?

Why is it at times even considered wrong for a person to attack an intruder in their own house? Isn't it the intruder who put themselves in the situation?

What gives? I've actually been thinking on this for quite a while now, and I'm a little confused. I have a few vague ideas of my own, but I really want to hear what you all think...
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Justin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:05 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
Why would it wrong to "beat" a person for driving drunk (or whatever), make sure they'll recover fine, and send them on their way? Why would locking them in a confined area with other criminals for months on end be more fitting?

Tough question. This is two questions actually. Just difficult to answer. If they are driving drunk and putting others in harms way, laws are put in place to prevent this or lock them up so they can't harm anyone or themselves. Difficult one to answer for sure, maybe rewording it directly would help.

Quote:
Why is it "ok" to send a child into timeout, thereby removing them from relationship and enjoyment, yet to give them a small (but memorable) amount of physical pain is looked down upon?
I've done this with my child as well as I've also been the one to go to time-out. I think it gives them time to think about what they did to arrive there. It's a new age. Spanking a child is no longer accepted in American society and can get the parents in a lot of trouble.

Quote:
Why is it "ok" to kill a person for their offenses, but it is wrong to do so with any physical discomfort?
Lol... you are asking tough questions. Each of these questions would seem more appropriate to deserve their own discussion thread. I don't believe there's an answer that would be suitable. Discussing these issues yes, but giving a direct answer to questions like the above is very difficult.

Quote:
Why is it at times even considered wrong for a person to attack an intruder in their own house? Isn't it the intruder who put themselves in the situation?
The law. The laws control the people and in this instance, if an intruder entered my home, I would do everything in my power to prevent harm to my family and pets. Right, wrong or indifferent, there's a fine line here.

Quote:
What gives? I've actually been thinking on this for quite a while now, and I'm a little confused. I have a few vague ideas of my own, but I really want to hear what you all think...
Share some of your ideas. Maybe opening these up into separate threads would offer more discussion. I can only speak from where I was raised on these subjects and according to the laws in America.

Good luck getting answers to these, tough questions. I'd suggest starting with one topic and opening it up for discussion.
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:18 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Thanks for the response Justin! And thanks for pointing out the possible-to-come confusing discussion... I see that each of these could well be a discussion on their own. But to me there is a common theme which is what I'm wondering about. Is there a "why" (or "whys") behind it all...

Hope that makes sense.

I guess maybe a place to start might be to try to define the common "value" that has emerged, the "value" that I am asking "why" about. I have yet to put good words to it, other than the ones I used to introduce the idea. So I just gave some examples to demonstrate and am hoping that others can figure out what I'm talking about. I'm hoping you all can help me out, because as you can see I need some help.

Justin wrote:
It's a new age. Spanking a child is no longer accepted in American society and can get the parents in a lot of trouble.

Why? That's my question. In our society those things are considered wrong (at least by many). I'm not sugesting that they are wrong. I'm asking why we think they are.
0 Replies
 
ltdaleadergt
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:28 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
The following are some of my wonderings... I'm not actually advocating anything here, I'm just exploring an issue.


Plot:
Quote:
As far as I can see, causing physical harm to another person (or animal!) seems to be one of the (if not the) ultimate evil in American (Western?) society. The idea of actually inflicting physical pain on someone, no matter what the crime, seems like an unimaginable barbarism.

Questions
Quote:
1-Why would it wrong to "beat" a person for driving drunk (or whatever), make sure they'll recover fine, and send them on their way? Why would locking them in a confined area with other criminals for months on end be more fitting?

Well it is not ok to beat someone just because they are drunk and they drove. There are many civil laws prohibiting that actions. Why is it ok to lock them up in a confined space, it is suggested as a punishment. I guess it is ok since they are not only physically being punished by the inmates but alsow mentally since after they are not soober anymore they well hopfully realise that action comes with reaction and hopfully not do it again!
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:31 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
<daleader> wrote:

Well it is not ok to beat someone just because they are drunk and they drove. There are many civil laws prohibiting that actions. Why is it ok to lock them up in a confined space, it is suggested as a punishment. I guess it is ok since they are not only physically being punished by the inmates but alsow mentally since after they are not soober anymore they well hopfully realise that action comes with reaction and hopfully not do it again!

Thanks for the response! As Justin pointed out, I might not have made myself as clear as I could have...

My question is why would American (Western?) society in general see the beating as wrong. Why is physical punishment "out of bounds"?
0 Replies
 
ltdaleadergt
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:39 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
Quote:
2-Why is it "ok" to send a child into timeout, thereby removing them from relationship and enjoyment, yet to give them a small (but memorable) amount of physical pain is looked down upon?

Childhood is a very critical time in a human life. From the age 4 to age 14 a child would remmber many things. Most important is from age 4 to 7. Punishing a child using the "naughty mat" is and Operant conditioning where the child learns that behavior that has good consequences will tend to be repeated, and any behavior that has bad consequences will tend to be avoided.( i forgot the actual terminology in psychology). Not sure what you mean by the physical pain sorry.

Quote:
2-Why is it "ok" to kill a person for their offenses, but it is wrong to do so with any physical discomfort?

The whole point of capital punishment comes down to three reason.
1-Giving the family of the vicitim a sense of comfort that the guy who have perfomred the crule action is death and no longer can do what he or she did to there loved ones to others.
2-The goverment hopes to scare people by showing that such and such acts well equal to have no sweet life. Once again knowing that you are going to die in less than 3 week is more than enough pain to bare. I guess there is pain. The reason that they do not want the murdere to feel pain is that once again civil laws forbbied the act of voliene and pain upon someone who is helpless in that case the murder since the murder is not doing any act of volience.

Quote:

3-Why is it at times even considered wrong for a person to attack an intruder in their own house? Isn't it the intruder who put themselves in the situation?

Well that law have being always contrivesal. The main reason is that in many cases when there is an act of volience is performed, it is usually the vicitm that is the one which gets hurt since if the intruder had the guts to come into your house that he well surely have the guts to kill you if he have to. But never the less who it is a normal reflex action and in many case the act of volience against the intruder is forgiven.

I hope that helps Smile
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:55 pm
@ltdaleadergt,
<daleader> wrote:
Not sure what you mean by the physical pain sorry.

Haha, I should have elaborated a bit more. I'm talking about spankings, and why are they now looked down upon. I'm not really interested in the "timeouts", except to point out that punishment itself has not been abandoned.

<daleader> wrote:

1-Giving the family of the vicitim a sense of comfort that the guy who have perfomred the crule action is death and no longer can do what he or she did to there loved ones to others.
2-The goverment hopes to scare people by showing that such and such acts well equal to have no sweet life.

Where in those reasons does the discomfort of the person being killed become unethical. Practically speaking, I think it would augment both of those goals to add physical pain to the equation. (keep in mind I'm not suggesting we follow through on that idea...)

I think the intruder scenerio might not fit quite right with my other examples, and maybe not with my topic in general. As you pointed out, that's a life or death reactionary situation. Though I still wonder why the physical well-being of the intruder is given such high priority that he could sue (or at least try to) if harmed. But I think that might be better dealt with as a separate topic.

Maybe another way to start this discussion would be to ask if there would ever be a time, in the eyes of American people (not law), where premeditated, intentional physical harm of another human being for the purpose of punishment would be appropriate. If not, why?
ltdaleadergt
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Feb, 2008 09:59 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
I think in order for us to get a good answer for your question is give a good definition of what is 'common sense' to us?

Not sure should we have a different topic for it or we can discuss it here. But I dont want to ruin your topic as they are good question than need to be answer.
0 Replies
 
Quatl
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Feb, 2008 04:58 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
Maybe another way to start this discussion would be to ask if there would ever be a time, in the eyes of American people (not law), where premeditated, intentional physical harm of another human being for the purpose of punishment would be appropriate. If not, why?


How about this:
A man rapes and tortures your child, in front of you (in other words you know with no doubt that he's guilty.) At trial he gets off on a technicality. So you track him down and kill him, doing your best to cover the evidence etc (1st degree "willful murder") so that your child can still have a parent.

I think this one would qualify in most folks eyes as a justifiable act. Surely at minimum an "understandable" one.

--------
The major legal reason normally given for things like the death penalty is prevention:
If the existence of a given punishment for a certain crime, influences many people's cost-benefit analysis in such away as to cause them to choose not to commit such acts, then the small(er) evil of the punishment is thought to be a good trade.

That's why the law also allows the "insanity defense" as the argument goes, criminally insane folks are not dissuaded by the existence of punishments. Note that most forms of crazy do not count. The defense must usually show that the accused did nothing to hide evidence for example.

------
As for the rest, it's just societal convention.
(In my opinion we are very concerned about pain in general, because most of us don't actually have many real problems these days. This gives us time and resources to obsess over every little annoyance.

----
also be cautious of conflating law and ethics, they are not always the same thing.
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Feb, 2008 06:13 pm
@Quatl,
Quatl wrote:
As for the rest, it's just societal convention.
(In my opinion we are very concerned about pain in general, because most of us don't actually have many real problems these days. This gives us time and resources to obsess over every little annoyance.

I think that's a great insight. Thanks.

Could it also be that the fact that most of us are so far removed from real physical discomfort or pain that such things are outside of our paradigm of what the human experience should include?

Quatl wrote:

also be cautious of conflating law and ethics, they are not always the same thing.

Also a good point. I realized after a few posts this would have been better in the ethics section... Anyway, while on the subject of law, I wouldn't be surprised if the fact that we don't have any laws that allow physical punishment would over time condition a society to believe that it is ethically wrong to do so.

Another reason I've been thinking about is that physical punishment seems to be easily prone to abuse, so maybe that could be a reason for a society to reject it wholesale...

Thanks all for bearing with me... Sometimes a little input helps sort out the thoughts! Wink
0 Replies
 
Richardgrant
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Feb, 2008 06:23 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
There can be no suffering or pain that I can experience in this life time without me first creating it. Everything starts with self and finishes with self. everything I see out there is a reflection of my own consciousness. Richard
Quatl
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2008 08:27 am
@Richardgrant,
Law can have some influence on ethics, though I think the usual flow of ethical thought is circular. Law, cultural norms, authoritative and peer opinion conspire with our existing temperament and thought to determine our views.

We tend to have predispositions towards a particular view, we then look out into the world and find things to confirm out feelings about the way things "should" be, this reaffirms our views, which begins the cycle again. It seems rare for folks to question their initial premises in a critical way.

I think this pattern is very difficult to avoid. It is something I find particularly frustrating in my own life. I notice myself falling into this trap from time to time which makes me wonder how often I don't notice. I guess it's an epistemic problem as well as an ethical one for me.

I tend to think that the rest of humanity is at least as stupid as I am myself, but this maybe a logical error on my part Smile

To bring it back to your questions however, I think you are right to think that violence is easy to abuse. I hold non-violence as one of the primary Ideals of my personal ethics largely for this reason. (By this I really mean not initializing violence, sometimes it seems necessary in defense.)

Violence, especially when motivated by feelings of righteous anger is very emotionally rewarding, and thus can become seductive. I don't think I'm alone in having felt the profound feeling of Properness that accompanies righteous punitive violence, though I rarely hear people speak of it that way.

I speculate that people need to believe they are acting out of justice and the acknowledgment of the pleasure involved prevents them from maintaining their illusions, so they actively ignore these influences. Motivations aside; it is easy to be lead into disproportionate (that is immoral) action by these emotions, even as we feel we are dispensing justice.

Is it ever "right" to use violence to dissuade a person from an undesirable, but non-violent behavior? I'm sure that it is not! However my certainty of this is emotional primarily. There is a certain irony to using the Law (that is violent coercion) to prevent parental coercion. Degree is obviously important here, a slap is clearly less damaging than a beating, and I think all would agree that some take beating their children to an extent that is morally wrong beyond all reason.

Where these lines of distinction are drawn is inevitably variable. I'm not one to impose my own norms of behavior on others via violence, but I'm in the minority with that opinion. Most people are just fine with doing that. Violence is in fact still endemic, it's just more polite these days. Lawyers are the hired thugs of our modern age.


I have no solutions; but, as you say, the questions themselves and our experience of them is often more useful than a definite answer to any of them.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2008 09:06 am
@Quatl,
It's been pretty clearly shown in the pediatric literature that spanking is ineffective in changing childrens' behavior.

So if we know that spanking won't work, shouldn't that make spanking ethically outrageous? I mean clearly beating a child isn't a good end in itself -- it's justified based on the idea of correcting misbehavior through discipline. But if we know the latter is unachievable by this technique, then how could we possibly explain or justify spanking other than as an expression of exasperation (or laziness!) by a parent?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2008 12:06 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Does the literature show that corporal punishment is never an effective form of discipline? Does the literature leave room for such punishment to be effective under certain circumstances?

I've never been one to think that physical punishment is effective - of course, I'm also not sold on the carrot and stick strategy in the first place.
Quatl
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2008 01:07 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
My understanding of "the literature" is that corporal punishment is effective if all of the following are true, and otherwise mildly to significantly counter-productive. Just to be sure, in this context "effective" means that a decrease in the offending behavior occurs, even when the person is unobserved.

1. The punishment must be immediate.
The more time between the offending act and the punishment, the less effective it is.

2. The "crime" must be specific, and understood by both parties.

4. The punishment must be consistent.
The punishment for the "crime" must be the same, and administered identically regardless of the amount of anger the punisher feels about the situation.

Even very small variations make the punishment less effective. It is extremely difficult to maintain this level of precision. I don't think most folks are actually capable of meeting these requirements. Even if they are met, the result is not large, and children don't necessarily learn not to do what ever it is, in general. They merely learn not to do it within the punisher's sphere of control.

--------------------------
I personally don't care what the research says, I don't hit children. Because I don't feel it's appropriate for me to do so. I also suspect that my belief that it is ineffective is based entirely on my emotional feeling that it is in inappropriate.

One rational reason I have is that slapping misses the point of the goal. The goal with kids is presumably to instill them with ethical and/or pragmatic values against the behavior. That is to educate them in avoiding the behavior.

Spankings and such seem most likely to instill a Taboo based morality at best. I'm not a fan of this moral structure, as it isn't easy to intelligently apply their "lessons" to future, related, situations which may be more complex or subtle.

Then again I don't have kids of my own, so I don't yet suffer from the particular insanities of parenthood Wink I try not to judge others too harshly, unless they are injuring or torturing their kids.
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2008 04:04 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
It's been pretty clearly shown in the pediatric literature that spanking is ineffective in changing childrens' behavior.

Haha, as funny as it seems to talk about it now that I'm an adult... My parents use of spanking really worked very well for me. So the rest of your argument kinda falls apart for me...

I think my parents did an amazing job with discipline. They made it a point never to spank out of anger or frustration, but only in a calm controled manner, away from puplic humiliation, and after the knew that we clearly understood what we did wrong. They were also vey consistent in their rules and application of them. And they had this thing of counting to 3... They'd say 1...2...3, and if they got to three it was a spaking, and no two ways around it. And they wouldn't start counting unless they were going to finish. It really was pretty pointless trying to disobey!

Really, I think they did a good job at following the guidelines Quatl laid out. Personally, I hope my wife and I can do as good of a job as my parents did...
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Feb, 2008 11:17 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
Haha, as funny as it seems to talk about it now that I'm an adult... My parents use of spanking really worked very well for me. So the rest of your argument kinda falls apart for me...
Well, you're an anecdote without a control group, so you actually haven't the foggiest idea whether spanking worked as compared with not spanking.

Be that as it may, whether you believe it or not, you certainly can ponder my points as hypotheticals regardless of your own memories of being spanked.

I've got Pubmed open in another window -- there's one article here from Johns Hopkins showing spanking of children under age 2 is statistically significantly associated with behavior problems later in childhood; another study is a meta-analysis that shows behavior effect size was equal between spanking and non-spanking techniques (i.e. equivalence). A third study significantly associated spanking with physical injuries. These studies only looked at spanking, not at corporal punishment in general.

But spanking is MORE likely to cause harm than alternative techniques, and it at best is equal to non-spanking in behavior effects. That seals the deal for me. Would you buy a pill for headaches if I told you it was no better than Tylenol but it costs more and has more side effects?

With respect to Luke, we can all tell that you're very well disciplined. Wink But that's the reason we do studies -- because n=1 is meaningless when you're trying to generalize a recommendation.
0 Replies
 
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Feb, 2008 10:37 am
@NeitherExtreme,
Good points... It's very true that I'm not a scientific study! Still, I have 3 siblings, and have paid attention in life to a number of other families where my parent's same (basic) policies and attitudes were present, and the results (IMO) are very good and healthy, moreso than any other basic approach I've witnessed. (That's not to say that no other approach is valid!) My criteria for observation is much more specific than any scientifc study I've heard of, or maybe could even be possible (parental attitudes don't show up on data sheets too well!), so I don't expect that every study has to intuitively match with what I've experienced. As Quatl metnioned there's probably more than one interpretation out there, even among the experts. Also, statistics can say many things (even from similar or the same data), and the way that the statistics are gathered has a huge impact as well...That's not to say they're not worth carefully considering, but for me careful observation and experience are more important in this case.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Feb, 2008 01:20 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
NeitherExtreme wrote:
Also, statistics can say many things (even from similar or the same data).
Ehhh, not really. Statistics are only as good as the underlying data, and you need to choose the right test for your type of sample set. But basic tests like comparing the means between two groups, and determining statistical significance, and performing correlations and regressions, etc, are very basic things. The issue is never really the statistics -- it's 1) the doubt that statistics leaves you with if the study is underpowered to show a difference, and 2) the practical application of the derived statistics.

For instance, if I took a million men from New York, and a million men from Boston, it's possible that I might find that the men from Boston are 1/4 inch taller on average with a very high degree of statistical significance. But who gives a damn about 1/4 inch? A statistically significant difference is not necessarily practically meaningful -- so for something that may be subjective like behavior / punishment of children, then you need to choose your sample and your methods very wisely.
NeitherExtreme
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Feb, 2008 06:13 pm
@Aedes,
I probably should have said:

Also, statistics can be used to say many things (even from similar or the same data).

But you're right, if reported honestly, data is data.
 

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