Classifying Reactions to Wrongdoing: Taxonomies of Misdeeds, Sanctions, and Aims of Sanctions

By R. Murray Thomas | Go to book overview

1
Characteristics of Taxonomies

This book is founded on the proposition that people spend most of their waking hours trying to understand their world--trying to discover the meanings of the multitude of daily events they witness or help create. Perhaps the most important cognitive act performed in this never-ending effort is that of classifying events. As we assign happenings to categories, we render them comprehensible in terms of how they are similar to, and different from, other happenings that we recall. Thus, classifying people, objects, and incidents enables us to compare and contrast them and thereby construct an orderly mental map of reality that assists us in coping with the demands of our lives.

It appears that most of the classifying that people do is automatic and subliminal rather than conscious and intentional. In other words, the act of relegating the content of events to mental categories usually is performed below the threshold of consciousness. However, as children grow up, and especially as they pursue formal education, the task of classifying becomes increasingly deliberate. Formal education to a great degree consists of teaching diverse styles of classifying so that happenings can be compared and contrasted in useful ways.

In the physical and social sciences, as well as in the humanities, an important venture scholars pursue is that of devising new ways to organize phenomena. The resulting schemes are commonly referred to as classification systems, typologies, or taxonomic structures. The purpose of such systems is to provide a scaffolding on which to display the happenings in a given field of interest. A system is successful to the extent that it casts events from the field in unexpected but convincing patterns, thereby promoting a more complete understanding of that domain of life. Such understanding results from the scheme's ability to delineate the components of the domain in a novel way, offering new perspectives from which to compare and contrast events. In using the term unexpected, I mean that prior to the creation of the system, people did not view the field in the particular manner that this new classification method

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Classifying Reactions to Wrongdoing: Taxonomies of Misdeeds, Sanctions, and Aims of Sanctions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles In Contributions in Psychology ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1- Characteristics of Taxonomies 1
  • Conclusion 18
  • 2- Conceptualizing Wrongdoing 21
  • Conclusion 48
  • 3- Classifying Misdeeds 49
  • Conclusion 53
  • 4- Modes of Reasoning About Aims and Sanctions 55
  • Conclusion 76
  • 5- Foundations of an Aims Taxonomy 77
  • Conclusion 113
  • 6- Types of Aims 115
  • Conclusion 126
  • 7- Foundations of a Sanctions Taxonomy 127
  • Conclusion 178
  • 8: Types of Sanctions 179
  • 9- Applications 193
  • Conclusion 201
  • References 203
  • Index 211
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