doubt the calibration of their consciences

Lamb67

Senior Member
China/Mandarin
Justice Antonin Scalia, concurring with the majority, scoffed that the dissenters were letting personal opinion interfere with legal reasoning. If the majority decision offended their consciences, he suggested, “perhaps they should doubt the calibration of their consciences or, better still, the usefulness of ‘conscience shocking’ as a legal test.” Leonel Herrera was executed four months later. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/the-last-line-of-defense/8875/

The related part is in the middle of the above link page beginning with:Justice Harry Blackmun dissented

For a better understanding I checked with Wiki on CALIBRATION Calibration is a comparison between measurements – one of known magnitude or correctness made or set with one device and another measurement made in as similar a way as possible with a second device.
The device with the known or assigned correctness is called the standard. The second device is the unit under test, test instrument, or any of several other names for the device being calibrated.

My question is what is the first device,the law or the consciences?
My bet is on the latter, the consciences is the reason why death penalty should be abolished.
 
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  • morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Is your question about the language or is it a moral question? If the latter, this is not the proper place to discuss it.
     

    Lamb67

    Senior Member
    China/Mandarin
    sorry, I am on the language side please.
    Just I have realized that my question might be an open one, depending who you are.
    If a lawer, the first device is the law....
     

    Lamb67

    Senior Member
    China/Mandarin
    OK, the Wiki's so called the first device might be in context I gave mean the law or the consciences.
     

    Lamb67

    Senior Member
    China/Mandarin
    to put my question more precisely:
    the first device should be a court decision-making or one's heart.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Justice Antonin Scalia, concurring with the majority, scoffed that the dissenters were letting personal opinion interfere with legal reasoning. If the majority decision offended their consciences, he suggested, “perhaps they should doubt the calibration of their consciences or, better still, the usefulness of ‘conscience shocking’ as a legal test.” Leonel Herrera was executed four months later. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/the-last-line-of-defense/8875/
    Lamb,

    Please find the word "device" in this passage. When you fail to find it, can you please restrict the question to the passage, so I don't have to guess where the "device" is and why I should be thinking in the terms of "devices", "hearts" etc.

    Do you have an actual question about the passage?
    Do you need the word "calibration" explained in the context of that passage, maybe?
     

    Lamb67

    Senior Member
    China/Mandarin
    Yes, that's the CALIBRATION.
    I refered to Wiki instead which seems to be inappropriate.
    I re-word my question as do we have calibration of laws?
    I only know delibration. The calibration of consciences is a figurative speech obviousely.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Well, to start, I would first ask what "calibration" means.
    What it means, is this: a device accuracy is checked against a known good standard. If it checks out, the device is then deemed calibrated and is allowed to be used for formal measurement procedures.

    Justice Scalia thus used "calibration" metaphorically, saying that the dissenters should be having doubts as to their consciences passing the comparison to a known good standard for a conscience of a judge. This is it to me. Language-wise.

    I don't think a deeper "moral" discussion is warranted here. We should restrict ourselves to the explanation of the "calibration" in the given context.
     

    Lamb67

    Senior Member
    China/Mandarin
    'If it checks out, the device is then deemed calibrated and is allowed to be used for formal measurement procedures.' in other words, as in a legal test or as the unit under test by other test instrument such as religion, morals, and conciences but that's beyond our discussion.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I also am unclear about the points you've been making, but I don't think it's as formal as you are thinking. Your conscience is a kind of 'instrument': you use it to tell whether things are right or wrong. Perhaps my conscience tells me the death penalty is wrong for this kind of case. I rely on my conscience always being accurate: if I feel something is morally right or wrong, it is morally right or wrong. (You would never say, 'I feel in my heart it is wrong, but I don't think it really is wrong.' That's inconsistent.)

    But Justice Scalia is suggesting perhaps this isn't true: their conscience is giving them wrong answers. It's 'calibrated' badly (like scales that don't say zero when they're empty). They need to get it 're-tuned' so that what they think is right and wrong once more matches what is right and wrong according to the law. Similarly, just because something shocks your conscience, doesn't mean your conscience is right and the shocking thing is wrong. It might, instead, be a sign that your conscience is not working correctly: is 'calibrated' wrong. There is no specific legal test intended, just the idea that someone's thinking isn't being done accurately.
     
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