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The Moral Punishment Instinct$
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Jan-Willem van Prooijen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190609979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190609979.001.0001

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Punishing Dangerous Outsiders

Punishing Dangerous Outsiders

(p.201) 8 Punishing Dangerous Outsiders
The Moral Punishment Instinct

Jan-Willem van Prooijen

Oxford University Press

The second, between-group function of punishment asserts that people are motivated to protect their group from dangerous outsiders. Consistently, people assign severe punishment to offenders belonging to societal groups that are stereotypically associated with crime. Moreover, people are particularly punitive when an out-group offender harms an in-group victim. People are parochial altruists who sacrifice their self-interest to protect their own group, sometimes to the detriment of other groups. I then describe how parochial altruism evolved as a consequence of war and inter-group conflict, and that between-group punishment can function to deter out-groups from committing hostilities. These insights have implications for contemporary jihadi terrorism: suicide bombing essentially is an act of parochial altruism where a terrorist imposes collective punishment on an enemy out-group.

Keywords:   Racial police shootings, stereotypes, parochial altruism, war, violent inter-group conflict, collective punishment, suicide bombers

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