Since last weeks discussion I wanted to renew the subject of whether or not truth commissions should release names. Some said that they should because it would lead the community to shaming the criminals, thus punishing them even though they were given amnesty. The other people class noted that shaming was too grave of a punishment, and that names should be with held so that shaming would not take place. But, the problem is which is more just?
It seems that the purpose of truth commissions is in the name: Truth. The purpose of revealing the truth in these hearings is the hope that the community will, upon hearing these criminals tell and take responsibility for their actions, restore its relationship to the part of the community that is now the basically criminals. The idea is that the healthy part of the community comprising of the victims will, after hearing the testimony will have stared to overcome their personal grievances and begin to reaccept the perpetrators of the crimes against them into the victims community.
The issue is to some shaming. Some as mentioned above, say that if names are released that the victims will shame the criminals not only negating their amnesty, but also diving the community further. This would defeat the original purpose of the truth commission, if it were true. But, the fact of the matter is that feeling shame is part of human nature. We cannot prescribe shame any more than we can prescribe disappointment as a punishment of any sort. The problem is that you cannot cast shame, because the perpetrator who breaks line with his community’s norms only feels shame.
Shame is cultural, and not at all universal in nature. For example in America we were shoes all the time in our homes, however in Japan it is very impolite and rude to wear your shoes even in your own home. Now if I went to Japan and I wore my shoes into someone’s home without knowing that I was breaking social custom I would feel no shame, until I became accustomed to the social norm.
In This same way sociopaths, or any person that has been so damaged as to no longer recognize social norms, are incapable of feeling shame and in this way would not feel shame even if they were out of sync with their entire community. For this reason it is impossible to cast shame or even prescribe it as a punishment, even if to feel it is the norm. Also this eliminates any reason to withhold names from truth commissions, because there is no way to argue that shame is a predicted punishment.