David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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.
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