“I won’t tell you what, Rodion Romanovitch. And in any case, I haven’t the right to put it off any longer, I must arrest you. So think it over: it makes no difference to me now and so I speak only for your sake. Believe me, it will be better, Rodion Romanovitch.”
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So much by way of review of the recent past as a stage setting forwhat follows—a sketch of what we take to be the best general approachto the problem of defining and justifying punishment.
Genesis 4:7 King James Version Everyone seeks the truth.
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The practice of punishment must be justified by referenceeither to forward-looking or to backward-looking considerations. Ifthe former prevail, then the theory is likely tobe consequentialist and probably some version ofutilitarianism, according to which the point of the practice ofpunishment is to increase overall net social welfare by reducing(ideally, preventing) crime. If the latter prevail, the theory isdeontological; on this approach, punishment is seen either asa good in itself or as a practice required by justice, thus making adirect claim on our allegiance. A deontological justification ofpunishment is likely to be a retributive justification. Or, as a thirdalternative, the justification of the practice may be found in somehybrid combination of these two independent alternatives. Attempts toavoid this duality in favor of a completely different approach haveyet to meet with much success (Goldman 1982, Hoekema 1986, Hampton1984, Ten 1987, von Hirsch 1993, Tadros 2013).
What filthy things my heart is capable of!
Raskolnikov is a torn man, schismatic by nature: "Raskol'nik" is Russian for "divided." When compared to level-headed companions like Razumihin or Zossimov, Raskolnikov divides the world into two distinct groups: the intellectual and the emotional; the rational and the abstract.
He says that belief in fate rests solely in perspective.
However, his emotional mind cannot fathom such causeless slaughter: "Indeed, if it [has] ever happened that everything to the least point could [be] considered and finally settled he would renounce it all as something absurd, monstrous and impossible," (68).
To Raskolnikov, this "fate" is his best friend.
He [has] become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dread[s] meeting, not only his landlady, but anyone at all," (1).
I wanted to become a Napoleon," (383).
This trivial talk in a tavern ha[s] an immense influence on him as though there [has] really been in it something preordained, some guiding hint," (64).
In doing so, he rejects the need for and existence of fate.
Doom-saying aside, Dostoevsky's fundamental statement on the nature of reality argues that all people have the freedom to choose their own destinies, and that "fate" is merely a collective illusion created by the human need for excuses and blame.