My subject is not Capital Punishment in particular, but that theory of punishment in general which the controversy showed to be almost universal among my fellow-countrymen. It may be called the Humanitarian theory. Those who hold it think that it is mild and merciful. In this, I believe that they are seriously mistaken.
That idea—"the wrong-doer deserves punishment because he might have acted otherwise," in spite of the fact that it is nowadays so cheap, obvious, natural, and inevitable, and that it has had to serve as an illustration of the way in which the sentiment of justice appeared on earth, is in point of fact an exceedingly late, and even refined form of human judgment and inference; the placing of this idea back at the beginning of the world is simply a clumsy violation of the principles of primitive psychology.
In despotic governments there are no laws; the judge himself is his own rule. There are laws in monarchies; and, where these are explicit, the judge conforms to them; where they are otherwise, he endeavours to investigate their spirit.In republics, the very nature of the constitution requires the judges to follow the letter of the law; otherwise, the law might be explained to the prejudice of every citizen, in cases where their honour, property, or life, are concerned.
Beside the sense or instinct which man possesses in common with brutes, he has the advantage of acquired knowledge; and thence arises a second tie, which brutes have not. Mankind have therefore a new motive of uniting, and a fourth law of nature results from the desire of living in society.
It is not only the common interest of mankind that crimes should not be committed, but that crimes of every kind should be less frequent, in proportion to the evil they produce to society. Therefore, the means made use of by the legislature to prevent crimes, should be more powerful, in proportion as they are destructive of the public safety and happiness, and as the inducements to commit them are stronger. Therefore there ought to be a fixed proportion between crimes and punishments.
If we look into history we shall find that laws which are, or ought to be, conventions between men in a state of freedom, have been, for the most part, the work of the passions of a few, or the consequences of a fortuitous or temporary necessity; not dictated by a cool examiner of human nature, who knew how to collect in one point the actions of a multitude, and had this only end in view, the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
That train of reasoning is what logicians call a syllogism, and has all its various parts and terms,—its major premiss, its minor premiss and its conclusion. And, by the help of further reasoning, which, if drawn out, would have to be exhibited in two or three other syllogisms, you arrive at your final determination, "I will not have that apple."
A right of way over a neighbor's land can only be acquired by grant, or by using it adversely for twenty years. A man uses a way for ten years, and dies. Then his heir uses it ten years. Has any right been acquired?
Possession is to be protected because a man by taking possession of an object has brought it within the sphere of his will. He has extended his personality into or over that object. As Hegel would have said, possession is the objective realization of free will. And by Kant's postulate, the will of any individual thus manifested is entitled to absolute respect from every other individual, and can only be overcome or set aside by the universal will, that is, by the state, acting through its organs, the courts.
All forms of slavery tend little by little to weaken and disappear, even the sexual slavery of woman. The history of civilisation is a history of conquest and of liberation. We should ask in what stage of civilisation we find ourselves and if, in truth, the good of prizes and of punishments be necessary to our advancement. If we have indeed gone beyond this point, then to apply such a form of education would be to draw the new generation back to a lower level, not to lead them into their true heritage of progress.
A true profession, both in idea and as a matter of history, is a learned profession. An unlearned profession is a contradiction in terms. Learning, the pursuit of a learned art is one of the things which distinguishes a profession from a calling or vocation or occupation. Professions are learned not only from the nature of the art professed but because they have historically a cultural, an ideal side which furthers the effective exercise of that art.
Equity thus depending, essentially, upon the particular circumstances of each individual case, there can be no established rules and fixed precepts of equity laid down, without destroying it's very essence, and reducing it to a positive law. And, on the other hand, the liberty of considering all cases in an equitable light must not be indulged too far, left thereby we destroy all law, and leave the decision of every question entirely in the breast of the judge.
That law which is derived from the natural law only by way of conclusion, if the consequence be good, hath its whole strength from the law of nature, as the conclusion hath its force from the premised propositions; but that which is derived from the law of nature by way of determination and application, is in part a new constitution, even as every species hath its own proper form and essence besides that which is actually comprehended in the genus.
Since it has often been contended by opponents of the theory of relativity that the special theory of relativity is overthrown by the general theory of relativity, it is perhaps advisable to make the facts of the case clearer by means of an appropriate comparison. Before the development of electrodynamics the laws of electrostatics were looked upon as the laws of electricity.
The chief interest of the book of Narada, which has recently been translated into English by Dr. Julius Jölly, of Wurzburg, is that its writer is much more of a pure lawyer than the writer of Manu, and his work is much more nearly a work on law. Both of them were certainly Brahmans. The writer of Manu is intensely sacerdotal, and like earlier authorities, still contemplates the civil and earthly sanction as a supplement and aid to the spiritual penalty. On the other hand, the author of Narada depends almost wholly on the civil sanction, and his religious character shows itself chiefly in earnest and often very impressive exhortations to observance of the law and of the moral duties implicated with legal obligations.