Understanding Punishment as Annulment

Social Philosophy Today 13:215-226 (1998)
Authors
Jami L. Anderson
University of Michigan - Flint
Abstract
Hegel claims that punishment is justified because it annuls crimes thereby revealing the criminal act for what it is, a will “null and void.” In this paper I analyze the complex notion of annulment, arguing that Hegel is claiming that punishment does not change the past, but alters the status of the criminal will so as to reveal that will for what it is, a violation of a victim’s rights. In short, punishment invalidates the criminal's will and validates the victim's rights. I conclude that Hegel has offered a compelling reason to punish criminals and one that fits well a commitment to taking victim rights seriously.
Keywords Hegel  annulment  retributivism  punishment
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DOI 10.5840/socphiltoday19981317
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