Fallibility and retribution

Law and Philosophy 29 (3):337-369 (2010)
The fact that human fallibility virtually ensures that punishment will sometimes befall the innocent presents a theoretical puzzle to all forms of retributivism. Retributivists usually say that desert is a necessary condition for justified punishment. It remains unclear, following this view, how retributivists can support punishment in (imperfect) practice. The paper investigates a number of possible replies available to the retributivist. It concludes that one reply in particular can overcome the problem posed by fallibility, but it is not obvious that this reply is convincing.
Keywords Philosophy   Logic   Political Science   Social Sciences, general   Law Theory/Law Philosophy   Philosophy of Law
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DOI 10.1007/s10982-010-9066-x
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