Punishing the innocent — unintentionally

Inquiry 20 (1-4):45 – 65 (1977)
Abstract
The intentional punishment of the innocent is ordinarily claimed to be a special problem for utilitarian theories of punishment. The unintentional punishment of the innocent is a problem for any theory of punishment which holds that the guilty should be punished. This paper examines the criteria that are relevant to a determination of the appropriate probability of punishment mistakes for a society, and argues that this is the kind of moral problem for which utilitarian judgments, as opposed to considerations of justice, are most appropriate. To illustrate some of the trade-offs involved, the paper employs some hypothetical data.
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