I’ve read and heard the opinions of some philosophers who believe that humans have evolved a nature which drives them to seek “retribution.” However, either these philosophers are paid to sell illusory propaganda or they have not stepped back and studied the big picture to see specifically what a retributive drive is and how it would function within the context of society.
Also, religions with wrathful gods facilitate a retributory nature into existence and help it flourish. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and others feel religion undermines the advancement of science and results in individuals clinging to dogmas at odds to the facts learned from scientific research. Very possibly they ought to include the promotion of “retribution” by any organization or individual as equally detrimental to the well being and advancement of society.
On the other hand, practically all religions teach and preach a belief that the so called “will” is magically free from the world of cause and effect. Even most of the religions that hold predestination as a dogma contradict that dogma with The Dogma of Free Will. Furthermore, a belief in free will is the mainstay for retributory attitudes and opinions. So I guess Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and the others may be on the right track.
The “Entertainment” Industry with their illusory portrayals (making retribution seem honorable or heroic) likewise help develop a retributive nature in their audience.
Bear in mind that the “drives” experienced by individuals are not genetically written into the brain. A drive may have a basic component, such as the drive to eat or have sex, but these drives are enhanced, diminished, or otherwise modified by factors beyond conscious control (of the individual experiencing the drive).
Also bear in mind that the Nazi campaigns against the Jew in Germany could be classified as retributory. A reading of Hitler’s Mein Kampf reveals that the Jew was blamed for many of Germany’s woes.
No doubt the men and women who were charged with witchcraft and burned at the stake during the Inquisition were burned in retaliation for supposed wrongdoings. But could you or I logically state that the burnings were the result of an inborn retributory nature. No. However, we could logically state that the burnings were the result of an inborn nature that had been modified by social circumstance.
At the most basic level retributory behavior is little more than the tendency to bite back. And biting back is little more than a reflexive behavior resulting from the flight-fight-or-freeze response.
Linguists claim that humans have a language instinct. And I guess in the sense of a language instinct the human can be said to have a retributive instinct. You see, no human is born speaking, just as no human is born to seek retribution. But certain social circumstances cause the human to develop a complex language just as certain social circumstances cause the human to develop a complex retributory nature.
In my “Open Letter to James” I mentioned that I get upset…, even though my awareness of causality tells me that getting upset over something that was causally determined is just plain silly. However, a fact that I failed to point out to James was that I probably wouldn’t get upset as I now do if I hadn’t been subjected to the retributory attitudes and opinions of others during critical stages of my development. I was taught by my religion and by my peers that getting upset was the norm. I certainly wasn’t taught that getting upset was just plain silly, since all phenomena, even human thought and behavior, are causally determined.
The complex system of retributive ignorance now existing may some day be something for our ancestors to ponder and wonder how we could have been so silly.