Concept Clarifier in
separate window

Deserved Offense

I assert that there is such a thing as deserved offense.
Definition:  behavior by an offender which is deserved by an offendee
1.  for the sake of retribution
2.  for the sake of correction
a.  specifically because it exposes a moral defect in an offendee

This essay is about definition 2a.

Deserved offense is morally beneficial to the offendee if it causes him to revise and correct his morally defective behavior, but remains deserved (by definition 1) even if the offendee never corrects that behavior.

Deserved offense is likely to be morally beneficial to the offendee even if there is no forthcoming evidence that it has caused him to revise his behavior.  Some correction takes time.

Deserved offense is also morally beneficial to spectators when it gives them moral insight which they did not have previously.

Deserved offense remains morally beneficial to offendees and spectators even when they don't acknowledge such a thing as deserved offense, because failure to recognize the category is in itself an error about the nature of morality.
Many people think like this:
All offensive behavior is impolite and discourteous.
Politeness and courtesy are good.
Therefore all offensive behavior is bad.
Therefore there is no such thing as deserved offense.

This thinking conflates moral good with pragmatic good.  Politeness and courtesy are not moral virtues;  they are social virtues.  They serve the pragmatic purpose of facilitating social interaction - and they make a person more likely to survive and procreate.  Deserved offense is morally good whether it facilitates survival and social interaction or not.

Deserved offense is no less deserved, and no less moral when it brings unpleasant consequences on the offender.

Before proposing examples of behaviors which belong in the category of deserved offense, I will pause for comments.

This essay was originally a post to a discussion group.  Nobody commented.
I then wrote the following post, but decided not to send it.

OK, people don't want to discuss this subject because other people will be offended.  The Christians in particular are under orders not to do that.  I get it.  But the subject is very much worthy of examination, because the whole polite-ass world is morally stilted for failure to confront it.  If truth seekers don't lead the way in this, no progress is ever likely to be made.  And everyone in this group is seeking truth on some level.

Criminals of course deserve to be offended, but deserved offense extends down into gray areas that need examination.  I'm not sure what gray area behavior most warrants examination, so I'm just going to pick one arbitrarily:  lying.

Stipulative definition:  making a verbal statement which you know or believe to be untrue for the purpose of deception

All humans are liars.  All sentient life forms that have emotions will necessarily be liars.  If it wants, it lies.  Lying is built into the social and legal cesspool we swim in.  Most people pledge allegiance to the flag.  Fools in court swear to tell the truth on a book that tells them not to swear.  People write casual letters starting with "Dear Whoever" and end with "sincerely yours".  In the marriage contract 2 people promise to obey each other.  I mean what the fucking fuck!

I do it less than anyone I'm aware of, but I still do it.  Every time I install a new piece of software, I tell the universe I read and understand the licensing agreement.  I lie whenever it appears to be in my best interest to do so.  But since one thing I want to accomplish in this life is to prove worthy of a world free of liars, I keep it to a practical minimum.

Still, there are many times when the act of lying causes the liar to deserve to be offended.