Criminal Law and Philosophy 12 (1):125-142 (2018)

Retributivism may seem wholly uninterested in the fit between penal policy and public opinion, but on one rendition of the theory, here called ‘popular retributivism,’ deserved punishments are constituted by the penal conventions of the community. This paper makes two claims against this view. First, the intuitive appeal of popular retributivism is undermined once we distinguish between context sensitivity and convention sensitivity about desert. Retributivism in general can freely accept context sensitivity without being committed to the stronger notion of convention sensitivity. Second, it is not obviously a merit of popular retributivism that it admits a gradual lowering of punishments by softening public opinion. Retributivists have reason to be skeptical of softening public opinion if it comes at the price of undermining the extent to which offenders are thought to deserve censure. In sum, in this paper, I argue that there are ways of making retributivism sensitive to public opinion without arriving at the conclusion that popular penal conventions should govern retributive justice itself.
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DOI 10.1007/s11572-017-9415-z
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References found in this work BETA

The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.Steven Pinker - 2002 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 66 (4):765-767.
The Problem of Punishment.David Boonin - 2008 - Cambridge University Press.
Interpretation and Social Criticism.Michael Walzer - 1987 - Harvard University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Do Offenders Deserve Proportionate Punishments?Göran Duus-Otterström - 2021 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 15 (3):463-480.

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