Making more sense of retributivism: Desert as responsibility and proportionality

Philosophy 78 (2):279-287 (2003)
This paper is an elaboration of my previous paper published in Philosophy, ‘Making Sense of retributivism,’ which was a criticism of John Rawls' attempt in ‘Two Concepts of Rules’ to develop a rule utilitarian theory of punishment wherein utilitarianism is best construed as a justificatory basis for the institution of punishment and retributivism is best construed as serving as a justificatory basis for particular forms of punishment. I challenge this claim, arguing that retributivism must and can provide a justification both for the institution of punishment and for particular forms of punishment. In the end, I develop an analysis of the nature of desert as responsibility and proportionality. This notion of desert makes the best sense of retributivism.
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819103000287
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