(This is my last post: Big thanks to Thomas and all the Flickerers who joined into these discussions. It's been an interesting and challenging month. Don't forget to listen to the Very Bad Wizards Podcast! On to the post...)
Defenders of the standard retributive model often talk as if the punishment of wrongdoers by itself restores the self-respect of victims. Retributive punishment, they say, sends a message to the offender and society that the victim is a person, that he or she has rights that cannot be violated. This may be true in some imagined world of Kantian idealists, but it has no basis in real life. As the psychologist Dale Miller has argued, the way we respond to insults affects our self-image and our image in the eyes of others. The failure to respond can further diminish victims, it can mark them as cowards in their own eyes and the eyes of others.