This paper argues that there is a default presumption that punishment has some deterrent effect, and that the burden of proof is upon those who allege that the costs of any particular penal system are insufficient to offset its deterrent benefits. This burden of proof transmits to the discussion of international law, with the conclusion that it is those who oppose international jurisdiction, rather than their opponents, who must prove their position. This they have so far failed to do.
In my 'A Deterrence Theory of Punishment', I argued that a deterrence system of punishment can avoid the charge that it illegitimately uses offenders if its punishments are carried out 'quasiautomatically': threats are issued by a legislature for deterrent purposes, but those who carry out the punishments have no authority to take deterrent considerations into account. Sprague has objected that under such a system, those who carry out punishments will be unable to justify their actions. I reply that if it (...) is justifiable to set up the system in this way in the first place, then this justification will transmit to all actions carried out under it; and that it is justifiable to set up an institution of punishment in this way. (shrink)
Do minority groups have a right to the preservation of their language? I argue that the rights of groups are always reducible to the rights of individuals. In that case, the question whether minorities have a right to the preservation of their language is a question of whether individuals have a right to it. I argue that, in the only relevant sense of ‘right’, they do not. They may have an interest in the preservation of their language, but, if so, (...) that interest must be weighed against the costs of satisfying it, and, normally at least, we should expect that the costs will be quite out of proportion to the weight of the interests involved. (shrink)
I start from the presupposition that the use of force against another is justified only in self-defence or in defence of others against aggression. If so, the main work of justifying punishment must rely on its deterrent effect, since most punishments have no other significant self-defensive effect. It has often been objected to the deterrent justification of punishment that it commits us to using offenders unacceptably, and that it is unable to deliver acceptable limits on punishment. I describe a sort (...) of deterrent theory which can avoid both of these objections. (shrink)
What I call the Just Distribution theory of punishment holds that the justification of punishment is that it rectifies the social distribution of benefits and burdens which has been upset by the offender. I argue that a recent version of this theory is no more viable than earlier versions. Like them, it fails in its avowed intention to deliver fundamental intuitions about crime and punishment. The root problem is its foundation in Hart's Principle of Fair Play, a foundation which, I (...) argue, is inappropriate for a theory of punishment. (shrink)
Judith Jarvis Thomson has argued that any acceptable-- and perhaps even imaginable-- legal system must assign to citizens certain rights not to be aggressed against. I argue that this is not so. Typical legal systems certain assign duties of non-aggression; but the criminal branches of those systems do not assign corresponding rights. The civil branches may, but not to an extent that supports Thomson's thesis.