What are the arguments for and against concerted - intentional - efforts to make people suffer? I assume it's kind of vapid, but many people seem to enjoy making other people unhappy etc., a sort of cruelty and malicious joy from depriving people of all sorts of goods. Is that sadism? Does Sade have a philosophy or does he just like humiliating others?


1 Answer 1


Arguments for Sadism

  • Reinforcement: If causing suffering to others results in some form of reward or reinforcement for the individual, such as feeling powerful or experiencing pleasure, they may be more likely to engage in such behaviors again. This is known as positive reinforcement.

  • Avoidance or escape: If causing suffering to others helps the individual avoid or escape from negative situations or feelings, this could serve as a form of negative reinforcement, which also strengthens the behavior.

Arguments against Sadism

  • Social sanctions: Cruel or sadistic behavior is generally socially unacceptable and can lead to negative consequences such as social ostracism, punishment, or legal consequences. These negative consequences can act as a form of punishment, decreasing the likelihood of the behavior.

  • Empathy and social norms: Behaviorist models can incorporate the influence of learned social norms and empathy. If an individual has learned to empathize with others and adhere to societal norms promoting kindness and discouraging harm, this can reduce the likelihood of sadistic behavior.

As for the Marquis de Sade, his writings are kinda philosophical exploration of absolute freedom and rejection of social and moral norms, taken to extreme and often violent ends.

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