What is the concept of human nature? This is a hard concept to define, but if I had to define this concept, human nature would be something all humans have in common with whether it is emotions, or an act, and it is natural for humans to feel or act certain way. Emotions such as anger and fear are very normal human feelings that can possibly lead a person to be vengeful. Human beings' need for vengefulness is there to try to make things undone or make it fair. That vengefulness is clearly reflected on many judicial systems. In many of the earliest set of laws, Lex Talionis is very often the favored punishment in these societies. Lex Talionis is when justice is done through retaliation, the famous saying of eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth (Singer, 1993).
And we can see Lex Talionis implemented in some of the few earliest set of written laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi, The Medina Charter, and even in Confucius' philosophy teaching in Analects. We have to question the purpose of Lex Talionis and its effectiveness. We know that anger, fear, and vengefulness are clearly shown in most set of laws, but laws can also be trustworthy and goodwill. Let's look at few of Lex Talionis' examples from these texts in order to break it down easier.
[...] Lex Talionis plays a huge role in the Code of Hammurabi. Let's look at few rules in the Code of Hammurabi. The 2nd code in the Hammurabi goes as this: If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser. [...]
[...] This is where the whole for an can be seen in the Medina charter. If you treat an individual in a certain way, you will receive the same treatment. This rule though shows goodwill to the Jews and creates harmony amongst the Jews, Muslims, and those who ally with the Jews. And lastly, I want to look at Confucius' Analects to see how Lex Talionis plays a role, but in a different light. On chapter 23 of book 15, this famous chapter that is still used even today: Tsze-kung asked, saying, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not reciprocity such a word? [...]
[...] Most of these codes in Hammurabi have some sort of penalty or punishment, showing retribution to the “wrong-doers”, many of those punishments involving the death penalty. The Medina charter isn't as blatant as Hammurabi in terms of Lex Talionis being involved, but there are few examples. Let's look at rule 34 from the Medina charter, “Those in alliance with the Jews will be given the same treatment as the Jews (Muhammed)”. In an earlier rule in the Medina charter, the Jews were protected by Allah unless they commit a crime or a sin. [...]
[...] companion to Ethics” Blackwell publishing < http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=17i10ZZu8O4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA366&dq=l ex+talionis&ots=q5Yv5ty7u9&sig=jsu0dZTMeuMGhAmyTI4lUsPmaHo > Unnever, James D. and Cullen, Francis T. “Christian Fundamentalism and Support for Capital Punishment” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency < http://jrc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/43/2/169 > Yildrim, Yetkin. [...]
[...] References Aquinas, Thomas. “Summa Theologica” < http://www.aquinasonline.com/Magee/virtlaw.html#N_21_ > Confucius. “Analects” < http://nothingistic.org/library/confucius/analects/toc.html > Hammurabi. code of Hammurabi”. < http://www.constitution.org/ime/hammurabi.pdf > Linder, Doug. trial of Socrates” 2006. < http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/socratesaccount.ht ml > Morris, Richard J. “Disability Research and Policy: Current Perspectives”. Routledge < http://books.google.com/books?id=m401k8dnEHgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mentall y+challenged+death+penalty+texas&lr=&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0#PPP6,M1 > Muhammed. Medina Charter” < http://www.constitution.org/cons/medina/macharter.htm > Singer, Peter. [...]
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