Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Free Will And Madmen

This world sees violent, evil acts by murderous individuals.

When the evil is particularly heinous we seek to assign blame. Someones flew airplanes into buildings? Someone shoots up a school? Never let a crisis go to waste.

A headline crystallized my thinking: "What if nobody or nothing is to blame for ...?" (I take pains never to utter the name of anti-martyrs, lest the repetition of these nobody's names encourage like-minded losers.) When a crime is sufficiently horrendous, the mind recoils and we think, "surely, the perpetrator must be mad."

Maybe, or maybe not. I have no desire to understand evil as much I have a desire to eschew it, punish it, and prevent it where possible. Then kill it.

The notion which stuck in my craw is "blame." If we believe that men are mere automata set into motion by forces outside themselves, then those forces which bring about criminal acts are to blame. But if we think that men are free moral agents, and if we hold men responsible for their criminal acts, then "blame" rests on the shoulders of the perpetrator.

We can never say, "nothing or nobody is to blame," because we can ALWAYS say the perpetrator is to blame. Even when the perpetrator is a madman.

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