Pre-punishment, communicative theories of punishment, and compatibilism

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (2):125-136 (2012)
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Abstract

Saul Smilansky holds that there is a widespread intuition to the effect that pre-punishment – the practice of punishing individuals for crimes which they have not committed, but which we are in a position to know that they are going to commit – is morally objectionable. Smilanksy has argued that this intuition can be explained by our recognition of the importance of respecting the autonomy of potential criminals. (Smilansky, 1994) More recently he has suggested that this account of the intuition only vindicates it if determinism is false, and argues that this presents a problem for compatibilists, who, he says, are committed to thinking that the truth of determinism makes no moral difference (Smilansky, 2007).In this paper I argue that the intuitions Smilansky refers to can be explained and vindicated as consequences of the truth of a communicative conception of punishment. Since the viability of the communicative conception does not depend on the falsity of determinism, our intuitions about pre-punishment do not clash with (what Smilanksy calls) compatibilism. And if the communicative theory of punishment is – as Duff (2001) suggests – a form of retributivism, the account also meets New's (1992) challenge to retributivists to explain what is wrong with pre-punishment

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Bill Wringe
Bilkent University

Citations of this work

Against Luck-Free Moral Responsibility.Robert J. Hartman - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2845-2865.
The consequentialist problem with prepunishment.Preston Greene - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (3):199-208.
What's Wrong with Prepunishment?Alex Kaiserman - 2023 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (3):622-645.

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References found in this work

Punishment, Communication, and Community.R. A. Duff - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):310-313.
Punishment, communication and community.Antony Duff - 2003 - In Derek Matravers & Jonathan Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Routledge, in Association with the Open University.
Doing and Deserving: Essays in the Theory of Responsibility.John L. Carafides - 1972 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 33 (2):284-285.

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