#TVOP (The Varieties Of Punishments, October 22, 2016):
Are we trustworthy? Are you being watched; by whom? How is punishment in the personal sphere different from that imposed by Law? Does Law reason, & permit discretion? Is re-offence rampant? Is punishment a necessity (& a utility?) in a social ordered system? Does society punish for its own sake? Must punishment be just and proportionate, and not merely efficient? Does it need to be accompanied by a moral event in the perpetrator? Can one buy one’s way out of capital punishment? Must causation be separated from correlation to understand if deterrence works? Are moral systems to be kept out of legal systems? Must justice be retributive or ‘forward looking’? Are fines better than imprisonment, & when? Why is punishment graded? Why isn’t there death penalty for bank robbery? Must policing be minimized and punishment maximized? Do criminals calculate; is there a link between notions of autonomy, foreseeability, and rationality? Did we always think that children should not be caned? Are we likely to be aghast in the future that we once caged fellow human beings? Is a punishment free society more likely than a crime free society; why? Can we self regulate? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from law (Dr. Yug Mohit Chaudhry, Mumbai), economics (Dr. Parikshit Ghosh, Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi), & philosophy (Dr. Pravesh Jung Golay, IIT Bombay, Mumbai).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TVOP show.
Dr. Yug Mohit Chaudhry (law) is a Senior Lawyer at Mumbai High Court & has been practising since 2001. He is also a scholar who spearheads the death penalty abolishment movement in India. Dr. Chaudhry completed his B.A. in English from St. Stephen’s College (University of Delhi), where he also taught English Literature for a few years after completing his M.A. in English. In 1994, he went to University of Oxford to complete his Ph.D. in Poetry of W. B. Yeats. He decided to study law after witnessing the case of his sister’s employees being falsely accused of stealing horses from her stud farm and brutalised in local police lock-up. He acquired a law degree from the University of Cambridge in 2000. He also got a fellowship at University of Oxford, following which his book, ‘Yeats, the Irish Literary Revival and the Politics of Print’, was published. Dr. Chaudhry was the counsel for 15 convicts whose capital punishment was commuted to life imprisonment by the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented judgement on January 21, 2013. His first post-mercy death penalty case in which the execution was stayed was that of Mahendra Nath Das from Assam in 2011. He was also regularly consulted by lawyers appearing for Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist survivor from Mumbai 2008 attacks. Some of the other cases that he has been actively involved in are – the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case (Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan), Saibanna case in the Karnataka High Court and the 7/11 train blast case for the accused in the Bombay High Court.
Dr. Parikshit Ghosh (economics) is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics (DSE), New Delhi. He was educated at Presidency College (1990), the DSE (1992), and Boston University (Ph.D., 1998). He has held faculty positions at Texas A&M University and University of British Columbia, and has been a visiting professor/ scholar at New York University, University of Goettingen, Koc University, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), and Indian School of Business (ISB). Dr. Ghosh’s research focuses on applying the tools of game theory in order to understand social and economic behaviour. In some of his work, he has concentrated on the fields of politics and law, asking questions like whether media bias can affect democratic outcomes and whether punishment should be made to fit the crime to achieve social ends such as deterrence. Apart from publishing in disciplinary journals and publications such as Economic and Political Weekly, he has also contributed opinion pieces to outlets such as Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Economic Times, The Wire, The Quint and Anandabazar Patrika. He is currently the editor of the online portal ‘Ideas for India’, which disseminates the results of economic research to aid evidence based policy making. Some of his co-edited works include ‘Credit Rationing in Underdeveloped Countries: An Overview of the Theory’ (with Dilip Mookherjee & Debraj Ray, Blackwell, 2001) & ‘Factor Markets in Poor Agrarian Economics’ (with Ashok Kotwal, Routledge, 2008).
Dr. Pravesh Jung Golay (philosophy) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), IIT Bombay, Mumbai. His areas of interest is largely in the fields of Philosophy and Social Anthropology (with special focus on moral theory), Alfred Korzybski (General Semantics & related areas), and Wittgenstein. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Pune University where he worked on the ‘Concept of Limit in Wittgenstein’s Philosophy’. Before joining IIT Bombay, he has also been a visiting faculty at Symbiosis Institute of Law & University of Pune. Dr. Golay was also a fellow at Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla, from March 2014 to February 2016, where his research project was titled ‘Reason & autonomy: Discordant Harmony’. He has published a number of articles in various academic journals. His publications are largely in the field of philosophy of language, history of ideas, and the philosophy of everydayness. His two manuscripts, ‘Reading Wittgenstein all over again’ and ‘Conceptualizing corruption through the corruptibility of the self’, are currently being readied for publication. His most recent published book is titled ‘The Social Ontology of the Self in Pain’, that he has co-edited with his colleague Dr. Siby George (of IIT Bombay).
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TVOP mentions: Immanuel Kant, Cesare Beccaria, Jeremy Bentham, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gary Becker, Richard Posner, Roman Polanski, & Steven Levitt, among others.