Retributive Prepunishment

Social Theory and Practice 39 (2):213-222 (2013)
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Abstract

This paper argues that many of our most important theories of retributivism are unwittingly committed to the radical thesis that prepunishment—punishment before an offense—is morally permissible. From the perspective of diachronic justice on which these theories crucially depend, the timing of retribution is, ceteris paribus, irrelevant. But retributivism’s counterintuitive support does not stop there: there are conditions under which pre-offense apprehension and punishment guarantees a higher probability of justice being done. Under these conditions, the popular retributive theories I have in mind do not just permit, but require, prepunishment

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