Comment Of The Day: “Baseball Ethics While Watching Baseball, Part 2: Revenge”

Two excellent comments were issued by Red Pill Ethics on the harsh punishment dealt to Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, who took it upon himself to avenge his team’s loss in the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros, who, as the world discovered this winter, were cheating. Many fans feel that Kelly’s actions were justified because the Astros players received no punishment for the team’s illegal sign stealing during its entire 2017 Championship season.

The two comments complimented each other and here are combined here as one.

This is Red Pill Ethics ‘ Comment of the Day on the post, “Baseball Ethics While Watching Baseball, Part 2: Revenge”:

I put this squarely in the realm of play stupid games win stupid prizes. At the end of the day justice isn’t removed from the influence of market forces. If the punishment isn’t just given the evil, people will balance the deficit however they can. Is this wrong? Maybe? I can see arguments both ways.

There are certainly some situations where vigilante justice is justified but governing bodies can’t endorse it without eroding their own authority (Battle of Athens anyone)? Individual players on the Astros should have been punished. They weren’t. The human social antibodies see this injustice and move to correct it. I’m of half a mind that the Dodgers are doing the right thing. The players, objectively, got off too light and the Dodgers taking matters into their owns hands is a good reminder to the powers that be that the best way to avoid vigilante justice is to get the punishment right…

I thought more on the market model of this and I imagine it works this way. For any given crime (and it need not literally be breaking a law) there is some ideal appropriate level of punishment. For any given punishment there is some amount of vigilante response, but that response must be above some critical mass threshold to be actionable. The vigilante response will be proportional to the severity of the crime and the further you stray below the ideal appropriate level of punishment the larger that proportion grows. Going above the ideal appropriate level will likely reduce the vigilante response up to some explosive threshold where the punishment becomes an injustice in and of itself and the social antibodies will sort it out however they can (storming the Bastille).

In practical terms:

  • That means that severe crimes will usually get some kind of vigilante response even if the punishment is appropriate (for example how child molesters are treated in prison even if they get life)
  • Severe unpunished crimes are more or less guaranteed a vigilante response (Battle of Athens)
  • Leaning towards slightly too severe punishments might be the best way path to order (maybe that’s why American punishments tend to be much larger than European punishments?).

So is vigilante activity ethical? Maybe, in some situations – at the very least, in those situations, it will be the lesser of two evils. Is it unethical for governing bodies to act in contrived ignorance of this dynamic? I’d say that it is. Their job is to ethically produce order, and vigilantism has a weak but none the less casual relationship with appropriate punishment.

 

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