Punishment: As Above, So Below?

Question from Emily:
What gives you the right to punish your children when you don’t have a higher power punishing you?

Answer by SmartLX:
Other people do, by forming a society with laws that allow parents to discipline their children using reasonable methods.

Rights, human or otherwise, are an abstract concept. They have no physical form; you can only take them away by stopping or seriously discouraging someone from doing something. Since God cannot be shown to prevent or allow any actions at all, acting as He does exactly as if he did not exist, He does not apparently confer or restrict any of our rights.

It is indeed good practice for any authority to itself answer to a greater authority, to prevent the abuse of power. This is true all the way up the chain. The nice thing about a democracy/republic is that those at the top answer to each other; presidents can be impeached, judges can be dismissed and so on. If all authority ultimately rests with one individual, the word for the one in that position is dictator. Benevolent dictator, perhaps (as all dictators like to be portrayed), but a dictator nonetheless.

If on the other hand you just mean that punishment should cause more punishment further down the line, that’s called a cycle of violence. How I Met Your Mother calls this kind of thing the Chain of Screaming. Neither of these are positive behavioural models to follow.

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