Social Theory and Practice 41 (2):275-285 (2015)

Patrick Tomlin
University of Warwick
Some philosophers believe that we can, in theory, justifiably prepunish people—that is, punish them for a crime before they have committed that crime. In particular, it has been claimed that retributivists ought to accept prepunishment. The question of whether prepunishment can be justified has sparked an interesting and growing philosophical debate. In this paper I look at a slightly different question: whether retributivists who accept that prepunishment can be justified should prefer postpunishment or prepunishment, or see them as on a par. The answer is complex: asking this question brings to light unrecognized distinctions within both retributivism and prepunishment, giving us four different answers to the question, depending on what kind of retributivism and what kind of prepunishment are combined. Surprisingly, given that it is usually presented as a second best, to be pursued only when postpunishment is unavailable, some combinations will find prepunishment preferable.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract201541215
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The Real-Life Issue of Prepunishment.Preston Greene - forthcoming - Social Theory and Practice.

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