Governments work on an only slightly less cruel principle. Lots of times people go without knowing about a law, and then get caught by the government doing it and punished anyways. They say something like "ignorance is no excuse" but htat makes no damn sense. The truth is there is simply no alternative- The only way for people to realize that other people will stop them from doing something like speeding is if they actually stop them and then say "don't do it again". Raising a child consists of punishing children for doing something they didn't know was "wrong" until you punished them. Death may seem like a harsh punishment, but is it the terrorist's fault or the governments that it is the only punishment for oppression of the terrorists that the terrorists can muster. Terrorists do not have the resources to destroy infrastructure or armies, striking the enemy where he is weak is the only option he has. The "innocent" people are not innocent really at all, they are funding the fight against the enemy and know it its just they don't think the enemy can do anythign to harm them for it. The only way to change that is for the enemy to prove them wrong. If a terrorist could slap someone on the wrist rather than blowing them up they might, but how can they do this to the citizens of a country like the US? The net result of this whole system idealy would never be that people are dying left and right. It would be that every disagreement carries the weight of death of yourself and loved ones behind it, and noone would ever attempt to squelch their opponent (causing him to resort to force) or resort to force yourself unless the other person left you absolutely no choice. If both people see it this way they would debate for eternity before refusing to come to an agreement about something that involved one person exerting force over the other. I think as a race in this scenario we would find admitting we are wrong and having similar beliefs is not nearly as hard as we thought.