Reward and Punishment

Topics: Encyclopædia Britannica, Punishment, Encyclopedia Pages: 3 (1115 words) Published: December 9, 2010
In America we all live by laws, codes, and rules that have been put in place before we were even born. With each law and rule there is also a causal effect if we do not properly follow them. For instance, we know that if you kill someone, there will be negative consequences. Also, if we excel in our career, we will be rewarded appropriately. Justice and fairness are issues that we all strive to achieve. The concept of good and bad in regards to justice and fairness ties into our reward and punishment systems. Let’s take a look at how each of these is used in America.

First we have reward. “Reward is one method of distributing on a fair and just basis the good we are concerned with” (Thiroux, and Krasemann 122). Reward is very desirable in many people eyes. We have the need to be rewarded for our efforts, whether it is at work or at home. There are two major theories that deal with how reward should be distributed which are retributivist and utilitarian. Retributivist, or deserts theory rewards based on what people deserve for what they have done in the past, not for what the consequences for what they have done will be. Rewarding based on one’s efforts is the main focus. According to the retributivist theory, if two people are enrolled in the same Ethics class and put in the same effort, they should end up with the same grade. This would seem to be unfair to many people. The example alone is one of the major issues regarding retributivist theory. There is no incentive for a person to produce a higher quality of work or seek a dangerous occupation.

Utilitarian theory is based upon good consequences for everyone affected by acts or rules (Thiroux, and Krasemann 129). The emphasis is on the future and the rewards should be given only when someone is seeking to bring good consequences to everyone. The idea is to give someone an incentive to do better or work harder (Thiroux, and Krasemann 129). This theory also believes in rewarding people for working in...

Bibliography: "Punishment." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2010
Thiroux, Jacques, and Keith Krasemann. Ethics Theory and Practice. 10th. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. 122. Print.
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