Retributivism and uncertainty : Why do we punish criminals?

Daily Philosophy (18) (2021)
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Published on Daily Philosophy 2021-10-18 Why do we have a criminal justice system? What could possibly justify the state punishing its citizens? Philosophers, scholars of law, politicians and others have proposed different justifications, one of them being retributivism: the view that we ought to give offenders the suffering that they deserve for harming others. However, intentionally harming other people and making them suffer is serious business. If we are to do this in the name of what’s right and good, we better be very certain that what we do really is right and good. The so-called Epistemic Argument Against Retributivism calls this certainty into question.

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Sofia Jeppsson
Umeå University

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