Cruel and Unusual Punishment

In Matthew C. Altman (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook on the Philosophy of Punishment. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 771-788 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The prohibition on “cruel and unusual” punishments, found in the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, has long puzzled scholars. If punishments are cruel, why is that not sufficient to prohibit them? What does “unusual” add? Scholars have also disagreed on how to understand “cruel.” Should “cruel” refer only to those things that the authors of the Constitution believed were cruel, or does it extend to those things that are actually cruel? This chapter gives an overview of these debates and describes the United States Supreme Court’s jurisprudence in the area. A concluding part takes a look at the possibility that some contemporary forms of punishment (e.g., imprisonment) are cruel and unusual, and even that punishment itself might be cruel and unusual.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,102

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Proportionality in Punishment.Youngjae Lee - 2019 - In Larry Alexander & Kimberly Kessler Ferzan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Applied Ethics and the Criminal Law. Springer Verlag. pp. 549-569.
Proportionality and the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Clause.Clifton Perry - 2015 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 29 (2):271-280.


Added to PP

11 (#1,022,695)

6 months
11 (#155,789)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references