Emotions, retribution, and punishment

Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (2):160-173 (2009)
Abstract
I examine emotional reactions to wrongdoing to determine whether they offer support for retributivism. It is often thought that victims desire to see their victimizer suffer and that this reaction offers support for retributivism. After rejecting several attempts to use different theories of emotion and different approaches to using emotions to justify retributivism, I find that, assuming a cognitive theory of emotion is correct, emotions can be used as heuristic guides much as suggested by Michael Moore. Applying this method to the actual emotional reactions of victims' relatives, however, does not find support for retributivism. Instead, it suggests punishment should be understood as part of a process of recovery with a complex set of demands. Retributive concerns can play a role in the process, but they don't have the priority that retributivism requires.
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