Contracting for Punishment

Philosophy Research Archives 13:431-438 (1987)
Abstract
This paper argues that the general practice of punishment cannot be successfully defended by appeals to social contract arguments based upon the work of John Rawls. Several attempts to present such justifications are discussed, including those by Murphy, Morris, Sterba, and Hoekema. It is argued that social contractors would not choose a practice of punishment because such a practice is a symbolic expression of society’s disapproval of offenses against the law. Social contractors would instead choose a practice which might have some deterrent effect upon crime but would lack the feature of social contract theory
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