How to apply the First Principle?

What do you suggest should be modalities for applying a universal prescription to the real world?

‘Promoting the worth and dignity of every person’ offers a fairly clear idea of what we should not be doing: discriminating against or excluding others, on any grounds. On the positive side we are being asked to speak up for those whose worth and dignity is under attack. But what about the case of psychopaths, serial killers, hired guns or tyrants. Why should we NOT insist that they be classed as unworthy and stripped of their dignity? It is a lesson from the 20th century that messing around with exceptions to universal prescriptions is a fraught undertaking. Any exception becomes the precedent for implementing other exception. Given our current human proclivities, such lists tend to grow.

Perhaps affirming worth and dignity is such cases means breaking through the usual assumptions and reactions. Perhaps we should seek instead to understand what motivates such individuals, to spend effort and resources in seeking pathways to rehabilitate what seems un-rehabilatatable, and exploring aspects of mental functions that we currently do not know much about, instead of simply imposing mindless punishment. Could we possibly get others to buy into such a process?

It that not also what it means to affirm and promote the worth and dignity of every person?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *