After Dinner Conversation - Philosophy | Ethics Short Story
Philosophy | Ethics Short Story Discussions
E61. "Conscience Cleaners" - Does a criminal need to remember his crime?

E61. "Conscience Cleaners" - Does a criminal need to remember his crime?

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STORY SUMMARY: Should a criminal suffering from the remorse of the crime he committed be permitted to be freed of that pain? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Mr. Henmore’s was convicted of a terrible crime many years ago. He served his time, and been paroled, and is genuinely remorseful for what he did. In fact, his pain is so great, even years later, he suffers severe, almost daily, mental anguish from the knowledge of what he did. His lawyer has gone before the Grand Rectification Council to ask permission to have Mr. Henmore’s memory wiped clean of the crime he committed so as to enter his suffering. After making his case on behalf of his client, it is now up to the Council, should Mr. Henmore forever remember the horrible thing he has done?

DISCUSSION: A hard story that caused us to go back and forth several times. First, can we really be sure that erasing the memory of the crime won’t alter the person so as to make it more likely they will commit the crime in the future? If we are absolutely sure of that, is there an argument to be made that the punishment of remembering the crime you committed should last forever? Counterpoint, does society have a duty to create useful people of those who are safe to integrate into society? And finally, from an emotional standpoint, don’t you want the person to committed the crime, simply to suffer with the knowledge of what they did? Lots of questions in this Gordian Knot of a story, but very few clear ethical answers.

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