Political Philosophy and Punishment

In Larry Alexander & Kimberly Kessler Ferzan (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Applied Ethics and the Criminal Law. Springer Verlag. pp. 521-545 (2019)
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Abstract

Modern analytical political philosophy—characterized most notably by the work of John Rawls—has had very little to say about how punishment in particular and criminal law more generally might be justified. This is a puzzling omission, as punishment can be seen as the most serious use of coercive state power and therefore the one in greatest need of philosophical justification. With the idea of filling this gap, this chapter analyzes several major political theories of recent decades and examines how criminal justice might fit into their thought. After discussing the various political theories of libertarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, Marxism, and republicanism, I offer a limited defense of one such theory, Rawls’s “political liberalism,” as offering a suitable way to approach issues of criminal justice and punishment in modern society. More broadly, my chapter invites political philosophers to speak more often and more specifically about how criminal justice fits within their theories.

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Citations of this work

Public Reason and the Justification of Punishment.Zachary Hoskins - 2022 - Criminal Justice Ethics 41 (2):121-41.
Public Reason and the Justification of Punishment.Zachary Hoskins - 2022 - Criminal Justice Ethics 41 (2):121-141.
Punishment and Public Reason: Reply to Hoskins.Chad Flanders - 2023 - Criminal Justice Ethics 42 (1):38-51.

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