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Black Mirror, Philosophers, and Revenge

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First of all, this article contains massive spoiler of season 2, episode 2 of the ingenious TV series Black Mirror. You should stop reading right now and watch this episode if you've not done so far.

Besides, watch all episodes of this amazing TV series. Each and everyone a piece of art which you seldom come across.

Seen the episode? OK, then let's continue.

Since a short period of time, I'm following podcasts. One of the podcasts I stumbled upon is Very Bad Wizards where a psychologist (David Pizarro) and a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) are talking about all kinds of stuff. It's quite cool and for a techie like me, it's also a refreshing to learn and think about non-technical issues as well.

In their episode number sixty two they basically cover the topic of revenge. The first part of the episode deals with an interesting paper which does question widely used experiment setup. However, I want to concentrate on the second part of this episode. There, they describe and discuss the Black Mirror episode I mentioned above. I don't even want to describe the episode since you should have watched it already. :-)

The two podcast hosts pose very interesting questions. It makes you think about yourself.

What I found pretty puzzling is the fact, that those two successful researchers of two top-universities seem to agree that there is such a thing than the "right of revenge". Or that revenge is something "good". No word about whether or not revenge is causing even more bad things. Whether or not it would be a moral thing to let it go for the sake of humanity or somewhat. No, the discussion was only about whether or not the hangman is supposed to like his work or not. And: whether or not third party people are allowed to be amused by the punishment.

I am fully aware that there are lots and lots of movies out there where watchers enjoy the hero being a smart-ass punisher. Yes, and I do watch those movies as well from time to time.

However, I've got the feeling that the moral of revenge is different here in Europe than it is in the USA. It seems to be the case that Americans don't think twice when they face a situation where "bad guys" (which is obviously an issue to debate by itself) should be punished.

Also well cited American laws seem to copy my impression: right to defend your property up to killing any intruder, right to have a gun, yadda yadda yadda.

I just wanted to point out that there are people out there who think that "an eye for an eye" is a rather "historic" mind-set from times, where fist law was the norm. The so called civilized society ought to have higher moral goals than "beat the bully pretty bad" to get satisfaction.

Almost every country in the world has banned the death penalty. This is a good measure for the mind-set of people. "Interesting" mix of countries which are still executing humans by "law".

What is your opinion? Do you agree with me? Do you think that punishment is the natural law we should follow? Write a comment below!

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