A traditional overall distinction between the various versions of retributive theories of punishment is that between positive and negative retributivism. This article addresses the question of what positive retributivism implies for a society in which the state has many other types of obligation (e.g. obligations to provide its citizens with some degree of health care, education, protection, etc.). Several approaches to this question are considered. It is argued that the resource priority question constitutes a genuine and widely ignored challenge for (...) positive retributivist theories of punishment. (shrink)
Whether it is morally acceptable to offer rehabilitation by CNS-intervention to criminals as a condition for early release constitutes an important neuroethical question. Bomann-Larsen has recently suggested that such interventions are unacceptable if the offered treatment is not narrowly targeted at the behaviour for which the criminal is convicted. In this article it is argued that Bomann-Larsen’s analysis of the morality of offers does not provide a solid base for this conclusion and that, even if the analysis is assumed to (...) be correct, it still does not follow that voluntary rehabilitation schemes targeting behaviour beyond the act for which a criminal is convicted are inappropriate. (shrink)
Recent studies have shown that pharmacological treatment may have an impact on aggressive and impulsive behavior. Assuming that these results are correct, would it be morally acceptable to instigate violent criminals to accept pharmacological rehabilitation by offering this treatment in return for early release from prison? This paper examines three different reasons for being skeptical with regard to this sort of practice. The first reason concerns the acceptability of the treatment itself. The second reason concerns the ethical legitimacy of making (...) offers under coercive conditions. The third relates to the acceptability of the fact that those criminals who accepted the treatment would be exempted from the punishment they rightly deserved. It is argued that none of these reasons succeeds in rejecting this sort of offer. (shrink)
According to the restitutionist view on justice, criminals should compensate their victims for the losses they have suffered as the result of crime. The discussion amongst proponents and critics of restitutionism has, to a large extent, focused on the question as to whether the theory is capable of dealing with many of the complicated challenges that arise within a criminal justice system. However, in this paper it is suggested that the restitutionist theory of justice should be rejected from the very (...) outset. Given an empirical assumption, referred to as the Third Parties Assumption, it is argued that the theory is practically self-defeating in the sense that it cannot be applied without violating its own prescriptions. (shrink)
According to the main argument in favour of the practice of racial profiling as a low enforcement tactic, the use of race as a targeting factor helps the police to apprehend more criminals. In the following, this argument is challenged. It is argued that, given the assumption that criminals are currently being punished too severely in Western countries, the apprehension of more criminals may not constitute a reason in favour of racial profiling at all.
The purpose of this paper is to direct attention to a challenge—referred to as the threshold challenge —facing a non-absolutist retributivist view on international criminal justice. It is argued, on the one hand, that this challenge constitutes a practically pertinent problem for the retributivist approach to the punishment of mass crimes and, on the other, that it is very hard to imagine any principled way of meeting this challenge.
In Derek Parfit's original formulation the Repugnant Conclusion is characterized as follows: “For any possible population of at least ten billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better even though its members have lives that are barely worth living” (Parfit 1984). The Repugnant Conclusion highlights a problem in an area of ethics which has become known as population ethics . The (...) last three decades have witnessed an increasing philosophical interest in questions such as “Is it possible to make the world a better place by creating additional happy creatures?” and “Is there a moral obligation to have children?” The main problem has been to find an adequate theory about the moral value of states of affairs where the number of people, the quality of their lives, and their identities may vary. Since, arguably, any reasonable moral theory has to take these aspects of possible states of affairs into account when determining the normative status of actions, the study of population ethics is of general import for moral theory. As the name indicates, Parfit finds the Repugnant Conclusion unacceptable and many philosophers agree. However, it has been surprisingly difficult to find a theory that avoids the Repugnant Conclusion without implying other equally counterintuitive conclusions. Thus, the question as to how the Repugnant Conclusion should be dealt with and, more generally, what it shows about the nature of ethics has turned the conclusion into one of the cardinal challenges of modern ethics. (shrink)
Over the past decade the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) as a means of crime prevention has reached unprecedented levels. Though critics of this development do not speak with one voice and have pointed to a number of different problems in the use of CCTV, one argument has played a dominant role in the debate, namely, that CCTV constitutes an unacceptable violation of people’s right to privacy. The purpose of this paper is to examine this argument critically. It is (...) suggested that the argument is hard to sustain. (shrink)
This volume contains work by the very best young scholars working in Applied Ethics, gathering a range of new perspectives and thoughts on highly relevant topics, such as the environment, animals, computers, freedom of speech, human enhancement, war and poverty. For researchers and students working in or around this fascinating area of the discipline, the volume will provide a unique snapshot of where the cutting-edge work in the field is currently engaged and where it's headed.
This article addresses the question of how multiple offenders – that is, offenders who have committed more than one crime before they are apprehended – should be punished from a retributivist point of view. Two theories are evaluated, both defending the view that there should be a bulk discount for multiple offending. According to the first theory, a bulk discount follows from the idea of a punishment ceiling for types of crimes and the principle of parsimony in punishing. (...) According to the second, the discount follows from a certain view on mercy. However, it is argued that both theories suffer from theoretical flaws and that they are also insufficient in practical terms. That is, they fail to provide a basis for the making of decisions about how multiple-offence cases should be dealt with by the criminal justice system. (shrink)
According to the discontinuity view we can have a (lower) pleasure which, no matter how often a certain unit of it is added to itself, cannot become greater in value than a unit of another (higher) pleasure. All recent adherents of this view seem to rely basically on the same sort of reasoning which is referred to here as the preference test. This article presents three arguments, each of which indicates that the inference from the preference test to the discontinuity (...) view is not conclusive. (shrink)
A vcry important question raised by Dcrck Parfit in the part 0i` Reasons and Persons which dcals with population ethics is how t0 compare thc future outcomes 0i` those policies which differ in thc way they afTcct population growth} Such comparisons arc complicated by the fact that thcsc 0utcomcs may differ not only in thc avcragc Icvcls 0f well-being they gcncratc but also in thc identity and number 0i` thc persons who cxist.