An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Circumspect

It would be better for everyone if moral hazard were eliminated from the social order as much as possible. But it will be hard to root it out, because it is institutionalized deep in our laws. How deep? As deep as the rejection at the beginning of the 19th century of the old Mesopotamian notion of proper compensation for torts, memorialized both in the Law of Hammurabi and in the OT: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. The moment we reduced the penalties for torts from the time-honored “like for like” to financial compensation or time served, we reduced the net cost of hurting each other. Reducing the net cost of any sort of act does not generate more such acts immediately – you need agents for the mediation – but it does decrease the disinclination of agents to enact them, which they then more often proceed to do. So we are losing a lot more eyes and teeth than we might have been, had the penalties remained as they were.

The way things are now, we can injure each other horribly in great confidence that the worst that will happen to us is incarceration – and the lives of those who are so improvident, so morally and aesthetically deranged, as to be engaged in criminal activities in the first place, are unlikely to be so very impressed by a remote risk of a spell of years spent watching TV on a full stomach in a warm building. All but the most stupid men would decide differently if they knew for dead certain that they would pay in full with the coin of their own pain for every jot of suffering they inflicted. If you knew that the cost of shooting your enemy was that you would very soon be shot in exactly the same way, you’d think twice. Or three times. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

If you were so stupid that you didn’t think even twice about the wisdom of what you were about to do, why then your ontological capacity to err again in that same way would soon be drastically reduced. Chip away at others, and you’d get chipped away. The feedback loop controlling for bad behaviour would be extremely tight, and finely calibrated. That’s good system design.

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” then, is just false. If we all knew that we would certainly suffer at least the same degree of pain that we inflicted on our fellows, our motivation to avoid hurting anyone would be extremely high. We’d be more careful and prudent, and so there would be a lot fewer torts in the first place.

Nevertheless it would be somewhat wasteful for society to lose two useful hands to a tort that destroyed one hand outright. Is there a way that torts could be punished so severely that no one would want to risk them, without permanently degrading the productive lives of all those who nevertheless do – perhaps without meaning to? Is there, e.g., a way to exact just compensation in suffering for the loss of a hand, without imposing the permanent loss of yet another hand?

Sure. Flogging will do. Quick, excruciating, and not (usually) permanently crippling.

How severe does a flogging have to be, in order to reduce the motivation to commit a transgression to zero? Good question. The penalty must be horrible enough to engender terror in the strongest heart of the toughest man, but not so bad as to kill him inappropriately. It is a matter for trial and error, perhaps. We might start with the traditional sentencing policies current in, say, 17th century Britain – the end product of millennia of experience – and work from there. Better though to err at first on the side of severity, and ease off if we start getting more than a bit of mortality at the whipping post. We are not now so knit as our near ancestors; punishments they shrugged off might kill us.

But in the infliction of such punishments, it is important that no sort of squeamishness be allowed to weaken their severity, and that they be quite appallingly severe. To the extent that the severity of punishment is lessened, we will get more transgressions than we want – i.e., more than zero transgressions.

It may be objected – it will certainly be objected – that this suggestion is uncivilized, cruel, brutal. I answer that it is far less cruel than our current subsidies of bestial cruelty and carelessness, that promote and coddle it. I answer further that it is meet, and right, that we should all suffer the pain that we inflict on our fellows. One way or another, we shall feel it anyway, sooner or later; for the world is so made that its justice cannot be gainsaid, and will certainly be done upon us, body or soul. There is no other way, in the final analysis, that things can hang together coherently.

30 thoughts on “An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Circumspect

  1. Pingback: An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World *Extremely Careful* | Reaction Times

  2. Interesting Post!

    Modern punishment takes away your toys, your hopes and the things you love. It takes your life without actually killing you and therefore portrays a scarier prospect for most people who do have things to lose, the problem is, it’s usually the people who have nothing to lose that commit the worst crimes. With this in mind, the demand for empowerment and ending social ”injustice” as a way for crime prevention actually makes a lot of sense, give the losers something to fear losing.

    As you pointed out corporal punishment isn’t really that horrible in reality, and if you give a choice to criminals a surprising number of them will choose to be whipped in public instead of entering the ”justice” system. The progs know this, but they wanted something to crush your soul with, to ”rehabilitate” you, to make an agent of liberal thought out of you and not mere ”crime prevention”. So they created very specialized, complex institutions to do things that are considered effective for this purpose, and it used to be effective too, there was a good reason why people gave up on the old system and adopted the new one, and it wasn’t just state aggression.

    The reason this type of vicious, lasting punishment has been getting less and less effective is probably the rise of a very powerful, primitive subculture that enables and worships outlaws and criminals. The sexy revolutionary is such a powerful meme that even a lot of people in reactionary circles adopt it. Women practically worship these outlaws and greatly reward them with love and attention, almost every single hit song, movie or novel enables them and you can’t have a good story without someone challenging the corrupted order of things. Maybe this is because modern man doesn’t really have faith in the system, even if it is effective (which I believe it used to be), deep down we don’t “believe” in it.

    Believe it or not, if you chop a man’s right hand for stealing, but 16 year old girls start showering him with horny looks and inviting smiles, and people on the block treat him with more respect, and the media portrays him like a hero or a victim, pretty soon hand-chopping will become a very popular cosmetic surgery among men!

    • Oh and something else: the progressive argument is based on a moral understanding which claims revenge is unjust, and this is a Christian value. Now I don’t like to debate religion since I don’t know much about it, but denying ”an eye for an eye” doesn’t go back a century, it goes back to: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.”

      It’s very tempting to say this is a Christian perversion, but maybe this passage is just a personal advice for how individuals should conduct themselves and doesn’t have practical use in politics, maybe it only has such a use in a Christian society where everyone conforms to these norms, and maybe there’s something here I’m missing.

      But when Liberals say justice is supposed to bring back order to a state of disorder, and this only happens if we break the circle of violence and aggression that has created this state of disorder, not by doing more of the same thing, their argument comes from this fundamentally Christian Argument. Which is by the way a good and noble argument, however (and unfortunately) human nature fails to live up to this dream.

      • The Bible is quite consistent in teaching that vengeance belongs to the Lord, and that we should not seek to exact it on our own behalf. An eye for an eye does of course threaten to destroy the whole social order when vengeance is privately exacted; one very great benefit of the state and its ministration of justice is that it can forestall the vicious cycle of feud. Punishment for crimes is not therefore properly an act of vengeance, but of justice. Where justice fails, and we are injured without hope of due recompense under the law, then it is that Jesus’ advice really kicks: it heaps burning coals on the heads of our oppressors. The ingenious thing about it is that it does this without increasing our own debt of sin by one iota.

      • The injunction to “turn the other cheek” presents a problem for Christians, most especially those with the misfortune to live among people with a high propensity for hauling off and smacking the a cheek in the first place. No one can fail to notice that this line is quoted most approvingly by Christians whose chances of being smacked on any cheek is nearly zero, whose coat and cloak are fully insured, and who have in their pocket cab fare for the ride home from their two-mile walk. And not only are these people sheltered from the first outrage on their persons or property, they are also sheltered from the swelling number of outrages that their magnanimous indulgence causes. Could we interpret these lines not so much as imperatives, but as permissions? The possibility of breaking a cycle of violence and revenge doesn’t really exist in an honor society, and any society is better when there is an option to break the cycle through honorable forgiveness–that is to say forgiveness that is not universally perceived as craven self-abasement.

      • Interesting theory. Notice that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus insists that he does not mean to repudiate his Law, but rather to expand upon it. Thus, e.g., he says in Matthew 5:27-28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” The “but” does not set aside his ancient proscription of adultery.

        Likewise then when he says in Matthew 5:38-39, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Justice still demands an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and YHWH has assured us that one way or another, he will repay; but we are not ourselves enjoined to exact justice. Indeed, to do so is beyond our ontological powers.

        I discuss the vexed question of turning the other cheek in The Second Great Commandment.

  3. Public floggings were a feature of everyday life in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, one of the formative nonliberal books I read in my pre-conversion days. I especially liked (and still kind of do) its vision of flogging the fathers of juvenile delinquents alongside their miscreant children.

  4. Regarding Hammurabi’s law: When I took history in college, the hippy-dippy teaching assistant who ran the course presented that law as the epitome of wickedness, which is the usual way of presenting it. How supremely ironic it is that progressives, like the hippy-dippy teaching assistant of those yore-days, fail to recognize actual progress when they see it. Hammurabi’s “tally-justice” represented a great reduction in the severity of punishments. Previously the rule was, “for my inconvenience — your head.” It might well be that Hammurabi’s law is the mid-point of justice, halfway between the death penalty for everything and no effective penalties at all. I am squeamish about lopping off hands or gouging out eyes; but supposing that some criminal has indeed lopped off my hand, what would be the justifiable equivalency-punishment under Hammurabi’s vision? I ask out of curiosity and invite answers. Kristor?

      • Dear Kristor, I wasn’t asking about the historical particulars of the H-code, but hypothetically about what a just punishment would be under a modern equivalent of tally-law. That is, if you and I were to revamp the existing American penal code to restore it to fairness, what punishment would we mete out to someone found guilty of lopping of someone else’s hand, short of lopping off his hand? Luse (see below) would follow you in erring on the side of severity. As he says, he might resort to reciprocal lopping-off of hands. In case I was unclear, I apologize.

      • No apology needed, that’s just what I took you to be asking. I went to Hammurabi’s Code to see if it could offer any guidance. I wanted to see if it offered x number of lashes as alternative penalty for lopping off someone’s hand. Couldn’t find anything. I glanced at the Anglo Saxon code, and that wasn’t much help either. So, I don’t know what we would consider the modern equivalent of just compensation for the loss of a hand under a strict lex talionis.

        I might be reading him wrong, but I think Bill Luse actually disagrees with my suggestion that we ought first to err on the side of severity. I pondered that during the night, and – much as my bleeding heart inclines me to agree with him – conclude that severity is better than lenience. If the damage inflicted by an act is x, the meet penalty is *at least* x. Only that level of severity can hope to dissuade deliberate tortious acts altogether. The fear of the penalty should be so great as to completely swamp the allure of such acts, whatever it might be, to all but the most defective minds, thus altogether preventing them as much as is practicable.

  5. but supposing that some criminal has indeed lopped off my hand, what would be the justifiable equivalency-punishment under Hammurabi’s vision?

    I don’t know about Hammurabi’s vision, but I don’t see anything inherently wrong with giving the criminal what he gave you. It could even be done under anesthesia in an operating room, you know, similar to the method by which we execute people these days.

    I will say that Kristor’s “Better though to err at first on the side of severity, and ease off if we start getting more than a bit of mortality” probably has things backwards.

  6. TFB@ I was sticking on what struck me as your misuse of the word “fairness” and was deflected into some other thoughts on this topic. I know there are people who say that the American justice system is “unfair,” by which they mean that some groups (most often Blacks) are held to a more rigorous standard than others. I don’t think the evidence supports this claim, but I can very easily see how any legal system–from a Red Queen “off with your head” system to a system of universal sociological exculpation–could be fair or “unfair.” At the same time, a system that was scrupulously “fair” could be scandalously unjust if an identical but unjust penalty were imposed on all men guilty of the same crime. A system in which all men guilty of murder were fined ten dollars would be fair but unjust. On top of this there is the question of effective punishment, meaning punishment that deters recidivism, either by reforming the criminal or placing him under long-term or permanent restraint, or that discourages emulation. Obviously effectiveness will not align perfectly with justice and fairness.

    My casual impression is that the present American justice system is reasonably fair, but that this doesn’t mean much because the penalties that are being fairly imposed are so often unjust and/or ineffective. Corporal punishment of whatever severity clearly passes the fairness test since fairness is to be judged not by the punishment, but by how the punishment is meted out. We could easily have public floggings that were altogether fair. So it comes down to the question whether or not they are just or effective. (I know, people are thinking, what about “humane.” I’ll touch on that in a minute.) I can see no reason why it is unjust to inflict fear and pain on a man who has, with malice aforethought, inflicted fear and pain. So the real question is whether or not it is effective in deterring recidivism or emulation, and it seems to me that this is, at the very least, an open question. Personally, I am Hobbesian on this point: fear is the “strong force” in this fallen world; love, though very precious, is the “weak force.”

    Arguments for the humane treatment of criminals are, of course, Rousseauian, not Hobbsian. They assume we live in a prelapsarian world in which love is the strong force, or at least would be the strong force if we would only “let it flow.” If we show the criminal our loving humaneness, he well suddenly feel tremendous shame (“coals” will be “heaped on his head”) and he will repent. It seems to me that this is premature. What the criminal needs to see first is his own savagery in the form of a savage punishment. After he has spent some time outside the circle of humanity, and after he accepts the fact that he is the one who, by his actions, placed himself outside that circle, it will be time to show him some loving humaneness.

    • A system in which all men guilty of murder were fined ten dollars would be fair but unjust.

      I was interested to find that both the Mesopotamians and the Anglo-Saxons would have disagreed with this notion of fairness. Both of them would have thought it fair to impose a much larger penalty for murdering a nobleman than for murdering a free man, or a fortiori a slave. Modern civil tort law agrees with them: compensation for damages inflicted on a person depends in part on his “human life value:” the net present value of his expected future earnings. So it will cost you more to injure a young banker than a young vagrant.

      • Fair defined as perfectly equal between all men (with exceptions, as you note) is a culturally specific definition of fair. Historically, fair treatment would have been treatment of all men within an estate as equal–as peers. The distinction I was trying to bring out was that the concept of fairness applies to the relation between the law and the man convicted with breaking that law, whereas the concept of justice applies to the relation between the law and the act proscribed by that law. So an unjust law could be enforced fairly and a just law could be enforced unfairly. The concept of effectiveness, meanwhile, applies to the relationship between the law and social order.

    • Just an aside to this fascinating discussion.

      I know there are people who say that the American justice system is “unfair,” by which they mean that some groups (most often Blacks) are held to a more rigorous standard than others. I don’t think the evidence supports this claim

      You are correct. I recall reading that all else being equal, blacks receive lighter sentences than whites for the same crimes committed under similar circumstances. However, since many black criminals have long histories as criminals, they often receive harsher punishment because of that history.

      Another “unfair” aspect is that blacks form a greater percentage of the prison population than they do of the general population, but that is for the simple reason that they commit more of the crime than the white population does. This latter fact is ignored by liberals everywhere, which makes it easier to delude other liberals into thinking that the criminal justice system is “unfair.”

  7. Nevertheless it would be somewhat wasteful for society to lose two useful hands to a tort that destroyed one hand outright.

    By the same token wouldn’t be much more wasteful to sentence anyone to death? If you really want to have “eye for an eye” justice then the option of losing one’s hand for doing the same thing to someone else should be a real one, I guess.

    Of course, there are other considerations. For example, how important was the hand for the victim? The answer would probably be different for a craftsman and for a teacher. How important is the loss for society? A surgeon who could save a lot of lives… Would be lopping off hands as painful for the culprit as was for the victim? Adult strong man could bear it more easily than little girl. More pain to him would be appropriate. Then there is a question of intention – to lose hand in car accident is not the same as to have it lopped by someone with intention to do harm etc. And what if the culprit also has family? So there are, I think, many situations where the lopping one’s hand in the name of justice wouldn’t be just but the option should be real.

    The moment we reduced the penalties for torts from the time-honored “like for like” to financial compensation or time served, we reduced the net cost of hurting each other.

    Would you abandon the financial compensation completely? I think there was a habit in the medieval law that the family whose member committed murder offered compensation for the crime (usually not money but cows, horses etc.). The victim’s family could accept it or not. This opens the question of the victim’s participation in determining the punishment.

    Talking about medieval practices there were other forms of compensation and also repentance. I especially like the practice of making conciliation crosses. A few thousands of them can still be found around here. Sometimes the culprit had to lay down on the victim’s grave and ask forgiveness while a member of the victim’s family stood upon him with bare sword deciding to kill him or let him go. Barbarity? Perhaps, but there is also something innocent and open to the spiritual realm about it.

    • All good points. It gets very complicated, very quickly. That’s why we have judges. In reading up on Hammurabi’s Code I learned that some scholars think it a record of his actual sentences, provided to other judges as precedent guidelines.

  8. Pingback: An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Cooperative | The Orthosphere

  9. much as my bleeding heart inclines me to agree with him – conclude that severity is better than lenience.

    I was responding specifically to this: “Better though to err at first on the side of severity, and ease off if we start getting more than a bit of mortality at the whipping post.”

    This sounds as though you’re willing to find out how severe a whipping it takes to kill a man, and then to ease off on those who come after. But this would require a depraved indifference to life if the man you’re experimenting on is not being punished for a capital crime.

    If the damage inflicted by an act is x, the meet penalty is *at least* x.

    But this is probably, and almost without exception, not possible. The criminal always inflicts more damage on his victims than the punishment inflicts on him. Furthermore, application of your principle will have to vary with the nature of the crime. If a fellow, out of malice, lops off Thomas B’s hand, it seems meet and right to do the same to him, But it will still be worse for Thomas because he was an innocent victim, had no time to prepare himself for a one-handed life and, as a writer, will now be crippled in the exercise of his craft. (Lopping off the criminal’s hand might not be the right thing to do; I’m willing to hear arguments that it isn’t).

    However, if the criminal rapes Thomas’s daughter, we cannot commit an intrinsic evil by raping the criminal in turn. If a murderer brings on death via methods of torture, we cannot torture him to death in like manner. We’re always saying that the punishment should be proportionate to the crime, but for some crimes nothing of proportion is available to us. Even when we execute the murderer, we can never replicate to the value of x all the horror he has brought into the lives of the victim and his family. This isn’t to say that methods of punishment cannot be quite severe to achieve the end you desire, but only that we ought to be more scrupulous than the criminal.

    I say this under the assumption that I’ve read you right, and with the caveat that I haven’t read your topmost post, which appears to be on the same subject.

    • This sounds as though you’re willing to find out how severe a whipping it takes to kill a man, and then to ease off on those who come after. But this would require a depraved indifference to life if the man you’re experimenting on is not being punished for a capital crime.

      God forbid! All I meant was that we should start severe, albeit with punishments we were pretty sure would not kill; and then, if we found we had erred, to back off.

      I grant that it is practically impossible to impose a penalty as tortious as the crime. Indeed, this shortcoming in human justice is ontological: it comes with the ineluctable nature of facticity. Once Tom has lost his hand, no amount of money, or any other worldly good, can possibly repair the damage to his life. Even if through medical wizardry he got a brand new hand of his very own, he would still have suffered throughout the process, and that suffering cannot be undone (by the same token, we cannot redeem our own crimes before God, no matter how many sacrifices we make). So in practice, we are never going to be able to mete out the perfectly meet punishment.

      Nevertheless the meet punishment is out there, and we ought to do our utmost to approximate it, so as to discourage criminality. Where crimes are so horrible that we cannot even begin to inflict comparable pain without ourselves committing great evil, why then capital punishment would seem to be the right course.

  10. God forbid!

    Whew. You had me worried.

    Nevertheless the meet punishment is out there, and we ought to do our utmost to approximate it

    So Kristor is who I thought he was. He wants justice, which can never be perfect in this life. It is the failure to accept that limitation which leads us into temptation.

    • In your earlier comment you say that the state cannot do damage to the criminal equal to the damage he does to his victim, or at least not all the time. What relation do you suppose exists between the damage done to the victims and the benefit enjoyed by the criminal? If I am robbed of $100, I will not only lose $100, but may also be injured and will certainly be traumatized with lasting effect. The criminal, meanwhile, gains not only $100, but by all accounts enjoys knocking me around, humiliating me, and terrorizing me. It is hard to quantify this perverse joy, but there can be no question that it is real. In any case, crime has a benefit to the criminal that goes well beyond what we might call the material proceeds of his crime, and it seems to me that the deterrent penalty must be substantially higher than this benefit. This is because the cost of the crime, in the eyes of the criminal, is the legal penalty discounted at the rate of the probability that he will be caught. We might add to this that, in criminal circles, an actual penalty such as incarceration may cary substantial benefit in the form of status on the street. So I’m inclined to think that the damage with which a criminal is threatened ought to be substantially higher than the damage with which he is threatened.

      • Agreed. This was why I suggested that the pain of the meet penalty should be at least as great as the tort inflicted by the guilty party. The proper accounting is easier to perform and the resulting punishment easier to carry out in some cases than in others. The loss of a hand or the theft of $100 in an armed robbery are fairly easy cases. It’s the really heinous crimes where it gets tough. It seems that if the penalty for theft was 50 lashes, a dreadful punishment, then almost no one would take the risk. But a man so depraved as to feel good enough about torturing children to go ahead and do it would be tough to dissuade no matter how many lashes he might have to suffer for his crime. Better then perhaps to just destroy such monsters.

        The perfectly meet punishment would fully compensate the victim for his losses, and impose additional costs on the perpetrator sufficient to deter him and all his ilk forevermore from any crime. But as I pointed out to Tom, we cannot – metaphysically cannot – fully compensate the victim. So we should not make such compensation a major factor of the accounting that determines the penalty. Rather, our determination of the penalty should emphasize the contribution of the prospect thereof to the ex ante hedonic calculus of criminals, so as to eliminate their net desire to commit the crime.

        Again, with simple theft or assault thus seems fairly straightforward. For monstrous crimes and the monsters who commit them, it seems impossible to devise a morally licit penalty, no matter how painful, that could deter them. So these should probably be capital crimes.

        For the most horrible crimes, the Royal Navy back in the day would flog around the fleet – i.e., flog the convict on every ship of the fleet – and then keelhaul. It was a sentence of death.

      • You’ve started me thinking about the metaphysics of compensation, and on the first pass at it I think there are crimes for which I can be compensated and crime for which I cannot. If a young man were to break into my garage and steal my power saw, I would feel compensated if he returned the saw, repaired the window, mowed my lawn a dozen times, and exhibited real contrition. Compensation literally means balanced weights, and in this scenario, I would feel the balance had been restored. If the young man broke into my house and killed my wife or one of my children, on the other hand, compensation would be metaphysically impossible since there is nothing in the entire order of being that is equivalent to my wife or my child. This is not limited to death. I think it is also metaphysically impossible to compensate for depriving a person, of whatever age, of their innocence. I don’t mean naiveté, but rather the good will toward the world that disappears along with the expectation of good will from the world. Innocence is ontologically irreparable, irreplaceable. I’m not altogether sure where this line of reasoning leads, but I suspect it may be to Adam’s Fall, since that is the archetype of all that lies beyond the possibly of (natural) compensation.

      • That’s a penetrating insight about the Fall, and the impossibility of restoring innocence. I think you are right; but then it seems to me that this insight undermines your argument that a young man could compensate you adequately for petty theft. I mean, sure, he might make such amends as to mollify you, or even convince you that you were coming out ahead on the deal. But the young man can’t possibly restore your blithe innocence about him, the saw, the garage, and so forth. Even if you end up congratulating yourself on the happy outcome of your affliction, you were nevertheless really afflicted, and the affliction inflicted another nock on some as yet unblemished surface of your innocence about the world. Your attitude to life will be forevermore different, as less happy. You’ll be more suspicious, and spend more time making sure things are locked up tight.

        We are picking at nits, now, to be sure. But the nits nevertheless shore up my conviction of the impossibility of totally repairing a knick to the world.

      • Kristor@ While was sitting in our adoration chapel early this morning, it occurred to me that you are right. The moral economy is a closed system, so that any effort I use to repair some evil I have done is energy I cannot use to add some good. The young man in my story could repair my window, but when he had finished the world would have lost something (his labor) but gained nothing. If he hadn’t broken my window, he could have spent those hours making something new.

      • Just so. This gives the lie to the notion of the victimless crime. When a man commits a private sin, the whole cosmos is irreparably diminished. By exactly the same token, a hermit’s prayer in the midst of a howling wilderness benefits everyone.

    • Glad we dispelled that worry. I try to follow the argument wherever it leads, but I try always to be ready to reject an argument whenever I discover that it leads to insanity.

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