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On Free Will & Crime: How should society react to violent crime?

Free WillFree Will by Sam Harris

My Rating★★★☆☆

Glancing at the cover might have been more than enough to guess the full contents of this one…

Harris is right to an extent, but as many have already done, his argument is too easy to poke holes in. This is primarily because the argument depends on the definition/boundary that he imposes on it. It makes for a good argument in a monologue but will fall apart in a dialogue.

This is not to say that there is no merit in what he concludes on the basis of his hypothesis. He uses it to identify the true nature of crime and how society should react to it:

If sneezing was a crime and someone violated it, can we become riled enough about it to conduct mass protests? What if all (or most) violent crimes are like that at a fundamental level – involuntary? Can we move our justice system away from a system based on punishment to one based on correction/isolation. Can we start feeling fear and pity to offenders instead of anger and revenge? These threads make the book a must read, especially in the light of the mass hysteria that has gripped Delhi (and the whole nation) in the wake of the poor unnamed girl’s unfortunate death. Food for thought.

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Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts

 

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