Is vigilantism ethical?

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Aristotle, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Aristotle
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    Aristotle Senior Member

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    In much of the Abrahamic scripture there is the idea of retribution in the famous (or infamous) form of "eye for an eye, nail for a nail, tooth for a tooth." So I wonder whether true vigilantism (By true I mean retribution in the form of civilian justice without emotional involvement in the matter) is ethical. A great example of vigilantism would be the part in Star Wars Episode 2 The Clone Wars in which Anakin Skywalker avenges his mother who was tortured, suffered, and eventually succumbed to death in the arms of Skywalker. Then afterwards, upon being enraged by the recent death of his mother, killed not only those culpable, but the women and children.

    Although Anakin's actions was thus fueled by the love of his mother, would his actions be ethical?

    If someone commits a massacre under the guise that their action are to prevent future suffering could we say that through this moral ambiguity their actions were somewhat good?
     
  2. TheOldSchool
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    TheOldSchool Diamond Member

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    I believe it can be. Sometimes the laws of government fail and another route to justice needs to be taken. The question is who gets to judge what's justified? Society, god, your own conscience?

    Here's a case where society agreed that it was justified and the man only got probation or something like that:
    WARNING GRAPHIC (but it's a clip from a documentary and not THAT bad):
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi3Hyxuf5AE]Father of Kidnapped Son gets Revenge - YouTube[/ame]

    In the end a person has to live with the consequences and decide whether it's worth it.
     
  3. Mr. H.
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    Mr. H. Diamond Member

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    5 years probation.
     
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  4. AVG-JOE
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    AVG-JOE American Mutt Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Even if it was meted out under the best of circumstances and justice were secured by sheer luck, as in the fictional case of "Dexter" the righteous serial killer, vigilantism would still be unethical because it forgoes the promise of a conviction by the peers of the accused Monkey.
     
  5. AVG-JOE
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    AVG-JOE American Mutt Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Of course, in the fantasy universe of StarWars, who the fuck knows what a fulfillment of 'due process' would look like? :dunno:
     
  6. RoccoR
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    RoccoR Gold Member

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    Mr. H., TheOldSchool; et al,

    I am usually a less violent type, yet I have children I love.

    (COMMENT)

    I can't imagine, given my love for the children, what I might do should I meet their killer. I can speak rational now; but, what would I be like should I face that agony of losing a child.

    I think, that the Jury and Prosecutor must have rationalized along similar lines. Who can tell what is right or wrong in these circumstances - if you've not faced them.

    Most Respectfully,
    R
     
  7. Aristotle
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    Aristotle Senior Member

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    Interesting view. But in the United States if the people elect officials to carry out lawful retribution then aren't the people are to blame for the injustices along with the crime that follows?

    I take the quote from Katie Holmes in the movie Batman begins when she says something to the effect of "revenge is making yourself feel better."

    If in fact vigilantism is indeed ethical then I would think that it would not be done on the basis of one's own feelings but rather on the basis of (I can only think of the Utilitarian model) what is good for society.
     
  8. Aristotle
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    Aristotle Senior Member

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    Well, you are are a parent and in no offense to you it would be difficult to assume that a parent who loses their children to violence would act rational upon meeting their killer.

    But let me take you away from that example for a moment and propose another example:

    Is it ethical for someone to take an assault rifle with ammunition and kill a large group of gang members?
     
  9. Aristotle
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    Aristotle Senior Member

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    good point
     
  10. TheOldSchool
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    TheOldSchool Diamond Member

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    It's a matter of perspective. It's possible that the gang members could be saved and brought out of that lifestyle. But if those gang members had killed someone important to you then that may supersede any chance at redemption they have and the shooter could be justified. But who knows :dunno:

    I don't like the "utilitarian" argument because just about anything can be justified using it depending on the perspective of the presenter.
     

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