Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spontaneous Analogy That I Had to Write Down

I was thinking about this particular Comfortian argument: 

If you go before a judge, convicted of a crime and you say to the judge, jusdge, I know I have been found guilty but since you are a good and fair judge, I believe you should let me go, being that you are so good and fair. What do you suppose that judge would say to you? They might give a slight chuckle but they would likely say, "because I am a good and fair judge, I cannot let you go free. I must see that justice is served and if I let you go free it would show me to be corrupt."
And thought to myself: How would a Christian argue that analogy if one added this line?
"But your honor, during your last campaign I brought you thousands of votes through my campaign contributions and my faith in your capacity to judge, as well as my understanding of how much you sacrifice for justice!"
How should the judge reply?


  1. I'd hope that in any case the judgment is as unbiased as possible in light of the defendent's actions. Unfortunately the only way to do this (judge with an impartial method) is a hypothetical appeal to Mill's utilitarianism: whatever judgment will result in the greatest quantity and quality of utility for the ends of society.. Hopefully the judgement will then match the crime. But who knows?

    A more troubling problem is identity. What happens when a defendent says, "your honor I am not the same person who committed that crime ten years ago. I am not denying that I have the same body, looked the same, or even had the same parents - I even remember committing the crime!- but surely that murderor was not me! The person who committed the crime was religious, I am not. The person who committed that crime had different convictions and memories than I do. That person had an appendix, I had mine removed a year ago. That person had hair, I am bald... I am a completely different person, and thus you cannot punish me for someone else's crimes!"

    No court of law would buy this argument, but what is wrong with it? Are we really the same person we were ten years ago?? I don't think we are.

  2. What exactly do you mean "how should the judge reply"?

    If the person being judged was right about the nature of the judge, then he/she should be found guilty and sentenced exactly as was predicted.

    If the criminal was simply a blow-hard, the judgment could be anything, as capriciously determined as the judge desires. Just because the criminal was incorrect about what he/she was saying, this doesn't imply that the judge needs to be the opposite of that.


    Incidentally, I believe that every decade (roughly), the human body is 100% different than it was 10 years ago; all cells, all physical components - replaced. In a very tangible sense, I am not the same person as I was in my early 30s.

  3. I agree with you both. I simply can't fathom why this "good judge" argument is used. Its just such ridiculous idea. They never take it to its logical conclusion which is that vicarious redemption is, in and of itself unjust, and therefore not something a perfect and just God could use.