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Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion

Volume 13, October 2008

Thom Brooks
Pages 21-37

Punishment and Reincarnation
Does one Affect the Other?

The doctrine of reincarnation is endorsed by various philosophers in both the Western and Eastern traditions. This paper will explore the relationship between reincarnation and legal punishment. Three competing views of reincarnation will be analyzed on this issue: Plato's work on Socrates, the Bhagavad Gita, and Mahayana Buddhism. Each view presents interesting, but different perspectives on how our view of the person might affect how we punish. The paper will claim that there are practical implications on the administration of justice linked witli each view of reincarnation. Rather than an area we should neglect, perhaps we miglit improve our understanding of punishment in our societj' when we better account for the beliefs held by members of the society. Key words: Buddhism, death, Hinduism, Mahayana, Plato, punishment, reincarnation, Socrates Then the Lord said, 'Now that the man has become as we are, knowing good from bad, what i f he eats the fruit of the Tree of Life and lives forever?' Genesis 4:22