Optimizing the social utility of judicial punishment: An evolutionary biology and neuroscience perspective

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 16 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Punishment as a response to impairment of individual or group welfare may be found not only among humans but also among a wide range of social animals. In some cases, acts of punishment serve to increase social cooperation among conspecifics. Such phenomena motivate the search for the biological foundations of punishment among humans. Of special interest are cases of pro-social punishment of individuals harming others. Behavioral studies have shown that in economic games people punish exploiters even at a cost to their own welfare. Additionally, neuroimaging studies have reported activity during the planning of such punishment in brain areas involved in the anticipation of reward. Such findings hint that there is an evolutionarily honed basic drive to punish social offenders. I argue that the transfer of punishment authority from the individual to the group requires that social offenders be punished as a public good, even if such punishment is not effective as retribution or deterrent. Furthermore, the social need for punishment of offenders has implications for alternatives to incarceration, publicity of punishment, and judicial structure.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 77,952

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

Judicial Corporal Punishment.Ole Martin Moen - 2020 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17 (1).
The Evolution of Reason: Logic as a Branch of Biology.William S. Cooper - 2001 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Evolutionary biology and feminism.Patricia Adair Gowaty - 1992 - Human Nature 3 (3):217-249.
Justice Holmes, the Social Darwinist.Seth Vannatta - 2019 - The Pluralist 14 (1):78-90.
The Functional Perspective of Organismal Biology.Arno Wouters - 2005 - In Thomas Reydon & Lia Hemerik (eds.), Current Themes in Theoretical Biology. Springer. pp. 33--69.
An evolutionary behaviorist perspective on orgasm.Diana S. Fleischman - 2016 - Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology 6.


Added to PP

2 (#1,414,001)

6 months
2 (#326,657)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?