If I'd been identical to them, I'd have been them and not me.
Indeed. And why are you not them? Luck.
And I'd of course deserve whatever punishment I got, just as they do. Unless you believe in some soul or essence, of course. This is part of the sneaky theistic hangover.
The word "deserve" doesn't make sense in this context. If free will is an illusion no one deserves anything.
I can see why you'd be more compassionate if you still thought that desert is related to making a choice. "He had no real choice, so he can't be blamed" assumes that blame should be related to some real choice, that you've already said doesn't exist.
Well, yeah. To blame someone you're assuming that the person is the cause of the event. And we know that is not the case.
I don't see why I should treat a malfunctioning machine compassionately, any more than I should treat it maliciously.
What is exactly a malfunctioning human being? Do psychopaths have malfunctions ?
So presumably we can choose not to feel hate or vengeance, based on reason? And if we can, do we have any responsibility to do so?
I'm not saying everyone is able to do this. Some are. Some monks (probably Buddhist, I'm not sure.) once claimed that their biggest fear while being tortured was to stop feeling compassion for their torturers.
I obviously cannot attest to the veracity of their claims. I don't know if they feel compassion for everyone or not. The point is that, if free will is an illusion, hate is irrational. But if you can't stop hating people, that´s ok
, as long as we agree that free will is an illusion when we create policy.
I'm not saying it doesn't have consequences. Why is it important? Because your actions can affect others' behaviour, right?
Fatalism: you can choose what you like -> the result is already set up
Determinism: you can't choose -> the result is already set up
Determinism: Whatever you'll choose is set -> The result is set.
What you choose has an impact in the future.
I don't see where that deterrence has to be compassionate. If a hideous public torture and execution would act as a much more effective deterrent to serious crime, increasing overall well-being, would it be more compassionate to do that?
If a killer is not responsible for his actions why would you want to execute him? Retributive justice doesn't make sense. Yes, we want to deter certain behaviors but we also want to be as fair and humane as possible. I also don't think it would be more deterrent then imprisoning the person given that, and I'm not 100% sure about this but I think that violent crime rates in the US (where there is death penalty in some states) are much higher then in european countries (where death penalty doesn't exist).