The Idea of a Justification for Punishment

The argument between retributivists and consequentialists about what morally justifies the punishment of offenders is incoherent. If we were to discover that all of the contending justifications were mistaken, there is no realistic prospect that this would lead us to abandon legal punishment. Justification of words, beliefs and deeds, can only be intelligible on the assumption that if one's justification were found to be invalid and there were no alternative justification, one would be prepared to stop saying, believing or doing what one has attempted to justify. Therefore, the moral standing or basis of our practices of punishing offenders can not rest on a justification of it.
Keywords Philosophy of Punishment  Political Philosophy
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DOI 10.1080/13698239808403230
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Gary Watson (ed.) (2003). Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Michael Clark (1997). The Sanctions of the Criminal Law. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 97 (1):25–39.

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