more from Mencius (Meng K'e)

Single Idea 8241

[catalogued under 25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 3. Punishment / b. Retribution for crime]

Full Idea

When close attendants say a man deserves death, do not listen; when all the councillors say so, do not listen; when everyone says so, have the case investigated. If he is guilty, put him to death; he was put to death by the whole country.

Gist of Idea

Only put someone to death if the whole population believes it is deserved

Source

Mencius (Meng K'e) (Mencius [c.310 BCE], 1.B.7)

Book Reference

Mencius: 'Mencius', ed/tr. Lau,D.C. [Penguin 1970], p.67


A Reaction

The jury system is a gesture in this direction. Compare Idea 95. In Mencius's time, no doubt, everyone believed that capital punishment was sometimes right. Nowadays, when many people (e.g. me) reject it, the procedure won't work.

Related Idea

Idea 95 If everyone believes it, it is true [Aristotle]