May 5, 2015

Crime and the Collective

Analyse this quote and present your point of view in brief (as a comment)

When all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.
HANNAH ARENDT, Crises of the Republic

Abhishek on What Arendt may be saying:


Key ideas -
Culprit - one who commits the crime
Guilty - one who bears responsibility for the crime

Arendt’s argument

A - Only the culprit ought to be be held guilty
B -  In a society where A is not applicable, the entire collective may be considered guilty for the crimes of an individual culprit. This is equivalent to saying that no specific culprit is considered guilty
C - The magnitude of the crime ought to determine the magnitude of the penalty
D - In the societies that where A is applicable, the penalty applies only to the culprit
E1 - In a society where A is not applicable, the penalty would apply not just to the culprit but to entire collective (which is guilty)
E2 - Therefore, a crime of greater magnitude would lead to a penalty of greater magnitude applicable to the entire collective
F - E2 would be against the interest of the collective and thus the collective would avoid implementing the penalty
G (follows from F) - A greater magnitude of the penalty (stemming from a greater magnitude of the crime) would increase the chances of the collective not implementing the penalty

Arendt’s position - Societies ought to be such that A & D are applicable, and B & G are avoided

(Look for Abhishek's supporting argument in the comments)