D O C . 4 6 2 U N D E R S TA N D I N G O F P U N I S H M E N T 4 5 5 461. From George E. Hale [Mount Wilson,] 21 January 1927 [See documentary edition for English text.] 462. “Correct Understanding of Punishment” [Einstein 1927d][1] Published 22 January 1927 In: Berliner Tageblatt, 22 January 1927, ME: 1. Beiblatt In principle, I cannot understand why society should not be allowed to weed out individuals who have proven themselves harmful to society.[2] I cannot accept imperfection of government institutions as an argument against this, for it is not better if they wrongfully impose a lifelong prison sentence on a person instead of death. It is said that the death penalty has a brutalizing effect on the survivors this can only occur if people, due to improper upbringing, consider “punishment” as an act of retribution, instead of as an expression of society’s striv- ing for perfection. 463. To André Metz [Berlin,] 23 January 1927 Dear Mr. Metz, I think that you correctly characterized our conversation.[1] I have no objection to the publication. My conviction that the Weyl-Eddington theory is impracticable has become even firmer.[2] Meyerson’s main idea that physicists—genuine theoret- ical physicists—strive for nothing other than a logical construct that corresponds to causal reality, similar to how Descartes (or Hegel) imagined it, seems to me very
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