Many philosophers have claimed that the folk endorse moral universalism. Some have taken the folk view to support moral universalism; others have taken the folk view to reflect a deep confusion. And while some empirical evidence supports the claim that the folk endorse moral universalism, this work has uncovered intra-domain differences in folk judgments of moral universalism. In light of all this, our question is: why do the folk endorse moral universalism? Our hypothesis is that folk judgments of moral universalism (...) are generated in part by a desire to punish. We present evidence supporting this across three studies. On the basis of this, we argue for a debunking explanation of folk judgments of moral universalism. Our results not only further our understanding of the psychological processes underpinning folk judgments of moral universalism. They also bear on philosophical discussions of folk meta-ethics. (shrink)
The punishment of criminals is a topic of long-standing philosophical interest since the ancient Greeks. This interest has focused on several considerations, including the justification of punishment, who should be permitted to punish, and how we might best set punishments for crimes. This entry focuses on the most important contributions in this field. The focus will be on specific theoretical approaches to punishment including both traditional theories of punishment (retributivism, deterrence, rehabilitation) and more contemporary alternatives (expressivism, (...) restorative justice, hybrid theories, unified theories) with an additional section on capital punishment, perhaps the particular form of punishment that has received the most sustained philosophical attention. These theories of punishment address two important questions: first, who should be permitted to punish and, secondly, who should be permitted to be punished. These questions then concern the justification of punishment and its distribution. While the majority today often identifies their theories as retributivist, there is a great diversity of theories defended. This entry will highlight the leading work for each view. (shrink)
This classic collection of essays, first published in 1968, represents H.L.A. Hart's landmark contribution to the philosophy of criminal responsibility and punishment. Unavailable for ten years, this new edition reproduces the original text, adding a new critical introduction by John Gardner, a leading contemporary criminal law theorist.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a justification of punishment which can be endorsed by free will skeptics, and which can also be defended against the "using persons as mere means" objection. Free will skeptics must reject retributivism, that is, the view that punishment is just because criminals deserve to suffer based on their actions. Retributivists often claim that theirs is the only justification on which punishment is constrained by desert, and suppose that non-retributive justifications (...) must therefore endorse treating the people punished as mere means to social ends. Retributivists typically presuppose a monolithic conception of desert: they assume that action-based desert is the only kind of desert. But there are also personhood-based desert claims, that is, desert claims which depend not on facts about our actions, but instead on the more abstract fact that we are persons. Since personhood-based desert claims do not depend on facts about our actions, they do not depend on moral responsibility, so free will skeptics can appeal to them just as well as retributivists. What people deserve based on the mere fact of their personhood is to be treated as they would rationally consent to be treated if all they had in view was the mere fact of their personhood. We can work out the implications of this view for punishment by developing a hypothetical consent justification in which we select principles of punishment in the Rawlsian original position, so long as we are careful not to smuggle in the retributivist assumption that it is under our control whether we end up as criminals or as law-abiding citizens once we raise the veil of ignorance. (shrink)
The question "What can justify criminal punishment ?" becomes especially insistent at times, like our own, of penal crisis, when serious doubts are raised not only about the justice or efficacy of particular modes of punishment, but about the very legitimacy of the whole penal system. Recent theorizing about punishment offers a variety of answers to that question-answers that try to make plausible sense of the idea that punishment is justified as being deserved for past crimes; (...) answers that try to identify some beneficial consequences in terms of which punishment might be justified; as well as abolitionist answers telling us that we should seek to abolish, rather than to justify, criminal punishment. This book begins with a critical survey of recent trends in penal theory, but goes on to develop an original account (based on Duff's earlier Trials and Punishments) of criminal punishment as a mode of moral communication, aimed at inducing repentance, reform, and reconciliation through reparation-an account that undercuts the traditional controversies between consequentialist and retributivist penal theories, and that shows how abolitionist concerns can properly be met by a system of communicative punishments. In developing this account, Duff articulates the "liberal communitarian" conception of political society (and of the role of the criminal law) on which it depends; he discusses the meaning and role of different modes of punishment, showing how they can constitute appropriate modes of moral communication between political community and its citizens; and he identifies the essential preconditions for the justice of punishment as thus conceived-preconditions whose non-satisfaction makes our own system of criminal punishment morally problematic. Punishment, Communication, and Community offers no easy answers, but provides a rich and ambitious ideal of what criminal punishment could be-an ideal of what criminal punishment cold be-and ideal that challenges existing penal theories as well as our existing penal theories as well as our existing penal practices. (shrink)
Punishment -- Culpable mind -- Culpable action -- Responsibility for harm -- Liability for public welfare offences -- Justification -- Excuse -- Detention after acquittal -- The unity of the penal law.
Punishment is a topic of increasing importance for citizens and policy makers. Why should we punish criminals? Which theory of punishment is most compelling? Is the death penalty ever justified? These questions and many others are addressed in this highly engaging guide. Punishment is a critical introduction to the philosophy of punishment offering a new and refreshing approach that will benefit readers of all backgrounds and interests. This is the first critical guide to examine all leading (...) contemporary theories of punishment, including the communicative theory of punishment, restorative justice, and the unified theory of punishment. There are also several case studies examined in detail including capital punishment, juvenile offending, and domestic abuse. -/- Punishment highlights the problems and prospects of different approaches in order to argue for a more pluralistic and compelling perspective that is novel and groundbreaking. -/- Introduction; Retributivism; Deterrence; Rehabilitation; Restorative Justice; Rawls, Hart, and "mixed" theories; Expressivism; The Unified Theory; Capital Punishment; Juvenile Offending; Domestic Abuse; Sexual Crimes; Conclusion; Index. (shrink)
Part of the Studies in Crime and Public Policy series, this book, written by one of the top philosophers of punishment, examines the main trends in penal theorizing over the past three decades. Duff asks what can justify criminal punishment, and then explores the legitimacy of actual practices by examining what would count as adequate justification for them. Duff argues that a "communicative conception of punishment," which he presents as a third way between consequentialist and retributive theories, (...) offers the most fruitful way of understanding punishment's meaning and justification. Duff addresses such questions as how much sentences should be constrained by proportionality requirements; what modalities of punishment best communicate their intended meaning; and what decisionmaking procedures he envisions. This book will appeal to criminologists, philosophers, and others interested in theories of punishment. (shrink)
The problem of moral compliance is the problem of explaining how moral norms are sustained over extented stretches of time despite the existence of selfish evolutionary incentives that favor their violation. There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of solutions that have been offered to the problem of moral compliance, the reciprocity-based account and the punishment-based account. In this paper, I argue that though the reciprocity-based account has been widely endorsed by evolutionary theorists, the account is in fact deeply implausible. (...) I provide three arguments that suggest that moral norms are sustained by punishment, not reciprocity. But in addition to solving the problem of moral compliance, the punishment-based account provides an additional important theoretical dividend. It points the way for how theorists might build an evolutionary account of a feature of human groups that has long fascinated and troubled social scientists and moral philosophers – the existence of moral diversity. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss a distinctively non-paradigmatic instance of punishment: the punishment of non-citizens. I shall argue that the punishment of non-citizens presents considerable difficulties for one currently popular account of criminal punishment: Antony Duff’s communicative expressive theory of punishment. Duff presents his theory explicitly as an account of the punishment of citizens - and as I shall argue, this is not merely an incidental feature of his account. However, it is plausible that (...) a general account of the criminal law of the kind of idealized state that Duff focusses on will need to say something about how that law deals with non-citizens. In particular, I claim, it will need to provide a justification for punishing them. Because Duff's account says nothing about the punishment of non-citizens, it cannot do so. Furthermore, although Duff's more recent suggestion that non-citizens should be thought of as being guests in the state on whose territory they are present may provide for an account of their criminalization, it cannot easily be extended into an account that provides a justification for their punishment. (shrink)
This article defends the fair-play theory of legal punishment against three objections. The first, the irrelevance objection, is the long-standing complaint that fair play fails to capture what it is about crimes that makes criminals deserving of punishment ; the others are the recently raised false-equivalence and lacks-integration objections. In response, I sketch an account of fair-play theory that is grounded in a conception of the political order as a meta- cooperative practice—a conception that falls somewhere between contractual (...) and communitarian conceptions—and draw on this account to show how the theory can overcome the objections. (shrink)
It has recently been suggested that the fact that punishment involves an intention to cause suffering undermines expressive justifications of punishment. I argue that while punishment must involve harsh treatment, harsh treatment need not involve an intention to cause suffering. Expressivists should adopt this conception of harsh treatment.
Should the state punish its disadvantaged citizens who have committed crimes? Duff has recently argued that where disadvantage persists the state loses its authority to hold individuals to account and to punish for criminal wrongdoings. I here scrutinize Duff’s argument for the claim that social justice is a precondition for the legitimacy of state punishment. I sharpen an objection to Duff’s argument: with his framework, we seem unable to block the implausible conclusion that where disadvantage persists the state lacks (...) the authority to punish any citizen for any crime. I then set out an alternative line of argument in support of the claim that social deprivation can threaten the states legitimate punitive authority. I argue that a penal system must incorporate certain proportionality principles, and that these principles cannot both be met where citizens suffer from deprivation. (shrink)
As philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism continue to gain traction, we are likely to see a fundamental shift in the way people think about free will and moral responsibility. Such shifts raise important practical and existential concerns: What if we came to disbelieve in free will? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some (...) maintain or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of belief in free will? In this chapter we consider the practical implications of free will skepticism and argue that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe. We argue that prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for example, would not be threatened. On treatment of criminals, we argue that although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, preventive detention and rehabilitation programs would still be justified. While we will touch on all these issues below, our focus will be primarily on this last issue. -/- We begin in section I by considering two different routes to free will skepticism. The first denies the causal efficacy of the types of willing required for free will and receives its contemporary impetus from pioneering work in neuroscience by Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, and John-Dylan Haynes. The second, which is more common in the philosophical literature, does not deny the causal efficacy of the will but instead claims that whether this causal efficacy is deterministic or indeterministic, it does not achieve the level of control to count as free will by the standards of the historical debate. We argue that while there are compelling objections to the first route—e.g., Al Mele (2009), Eddy Nahmias (2002, 2011), and Neil Levy (2005)—the second route to free will skepticism remains intact. In section II we argue that free will skepticism allows for a workable morality, and, rather than negatively impacting our personal relationships and meaning in life, may well improve our well-being and our relationships to others since it would tend to eradicate an often destructive form of moral anger. In section III we argue that free will skepticism allows for adequate ways of responding to criminal behavior—in particular, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and alternation of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justified and sufficient for good social policy. We present and defend our own preferred model for dealing with dangerous criminals, an incapacitation account built on the right to self-protection analogous to the justification for quarantine (see Pereboom 2001, 2013, 2014a; Caruso 2016a), and we respond to recent objections to it by Michael Corrado and John Lemos. (shrink)
Philosophers have highlighted a dilemma for the criminal law. Unjust, racist policies in the United States have produced conditions in which the dispossessed are more likely to commit crime. This complicity undermines the standing of the state to blame their offenses. Nevertheless, the state has reason to punish those crimes in order to deter future offenses. Tommie Shelby proposes a way out of this dilemma. He separates the state’s right to condemn from its right to punish. I raise doubts about (...) Shelby’s proposed resolution. So long as punishment is widely and reasonably understood to condemn crime, Shelby’s proposal does not resolve the dilemma. Moreover, there is reason to think the blaming aspect of punishment plays a role in the justification of its hard treatment. I conclude by considering some other ways out of the dilemma, focusing especially on how the United States might take responsibility for its complicity. (shrink)
In the Gorgias, Socrates argues that just punishment, though painful, benefits the unjust person by removing injustice from her soul. This paper argues that Socrates thinks the true judge (i) will never use corporal punishment, because such procedures do not remove injustice from the soul; (ii) will use refutations and rebukes as punishments that reveal and focus attention on psychological disorder (= injustice); and (iii) will use confiscation, exile, and death to remove external goods that facilitate unjust action.
It is well documented that the effects of legal punishment tend to drift to the family members, friends, and larger communities of convicted offenders. Instead of conceiving of punishment drift as incidental to legal punishment, or as merely foreseen but not intended by state authorities and thus permissible, I argue that efforts ought to be undertaken to limit or ameliorate it. Failure to confine punishment drift comes perilously close to punishment of the innocent and is (...) at odds with other legal doctrines and broader penal practices that hold offenders, and offenders alone, responsible for their crimes. Numerous arguments urging tolerance of punishment drift, or more assertively defending it, are examined and found wanting. (shrink)
Criminal law theorists overwhelmingly agree that for some conduct to constitute punishment, it must be imposed intentionally. Some retributivists have argued that because punishment consists only of intentional inflictions, theories of punishment can ignore the merely foreseen hardships of prison, such as the mental and emotional distress inmates experience. Though such distress is foreseen, it is not intended, and so it is technically not punishment. In this essay, I explain why theories of punishment must pay (...) close attention to the unintentional burdens of punishment. In two very important contexts — punishment measurement and justification — we use the term “punishment” to capture not only intentional harsh treatment but certain unintentional harsh treatment as well. This means that the widely accepted view that punishment is an intentional infliction requires substantial caveats. It also means that any purported justification of punishment that addresses only the intentional infliction of punishment is woefully incomplete. -/- [This paper has been published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.]. (shrink)
The essays in this collection explore, from philosophical and religious perspectives, a variety of moral emotions and their relationship to punishment and condemnation or to decisions to lessen punishment or condemnation.
The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, I defend and expand the Fortificationist Theory of Punishment. Second, I argue that this theory implies that non-consensual neurointerventions – interventions that act directly on one’s brain – are permissible. According to the FTP, punishment is justified as a way of ensuring that citizens who infringe their duty to demonstrate the reliability of their moral powers will thereafter be able to comply with it. I claim that the FTP ought to (...) be expanded to include citizens’ interest in developing their moral powers. Thus, states must ensure that their citizens develop their moral reliability, not only because they must enforce their citizens’ compliance with certain duties, but also because states have the duty to maintain the conditions for stability and satisfy their citizens’ interest in developing their moral powers. According to this account of the FTP, if neurointerventions are the only or best way of ensuring that offenders can discharge their fortificational duties, states have strong reasons to provide these interventions. (shrink)
It is sometimes thought that the normative justification for responding to large-scale violations of human rights via the judicial appararatus of trial and punishment is undermined by the desirability of reconciliation between conflicting parties as part of the process of conflict resolution. I take there to be philosophical, as well as practical and psychological issues involved here: on some conceptions of punishment and reconciliation, the attitudes that they involve conflict with one another on rational grounds. But I shall (...) argue that there is a conception of political reconciliation available which does not involve forgiveness and this forms of reconciliation may be the best we can hope for in many conflicts. Reconciliation is nevertheless likely to require the expression of what Darrell Moellendorf has called 'political regret' and the denunciatory role aspect of punishment makes it particularly well-suited to this role. (shrink)
Should those who get dirty hands be punished? There is strong disagreement among even those who support the existence of such scenarios. The problem arises because the paradoxical nature of dirty hands - doing wrong to do right - renders the standard normative justifications for punishment unfit for purpose. The Consequentialist, Retributivist and Communicative approaches cannot accommodate the idea that an action can be right, all things considered, but nevertheless also a categorical wrong. This paper argues that punishment (...) is indeed appropriate for those who dirty their hands and that there are three normative justifications that can be used to support this claim. These are the justifications from ‘Catharsis’, ‘Recognition of Evil Suffered’ and ‘Causal Responsibility’. Together they provide the sui generis justifications for punishing dirty hands. (shrink)
Recent studies have shown that pharmacological treatment may have an impact on aggressive and impulsive behavior. Assuming that these results are correct, would it be morally acceptable to instigate violent criminals to accept pharmacological rehabilitation by offering this treatment in return for early release from prison? This paper examines three different reasons for being skeptical with regard to this sort of practice. The first reason concerns the acceptability of the treatment itself. The second reason concerns the ethical legitimacy of making (...) offers under coercive conditions. The third relates to the acceptability of the fact that those criminals who accepted the treatment would be exempted from the punishment they rightly deserved. It is argued that none of these reasons succeeds in rejecting this sort of offer. (shrink)
The idea that victims of social injustice who commit crimes ought not to be subject to punishment has attracted serious attention in recent legal and political philosophy. R. A. Duff has argued, for example, a states that perpetrates social injustice lacks the standing to punish victims of such injustice who commit crimes. A crucial premiss in his argument concerns the fact that when courts in liberal society mete out legitimate criminal punishments, they are conceived as acting in the name (...) of all citizens—on behalf of the whole political community. Resisting this premiss, Peter Chau has suggested that courts ought to be conceived as acting only in the name of “just citizens”: citizens who cannot be plausibly seen as having contributed to distributive injustice. When conceived in this way, Chau argues, courts can no longer plausibly be regarded as lacking standing to punish. This article uses the debate between Duff and Chau to explain why the question of whether to punish socially deprived offenders can only be answered adequately when connected to broader concerns of democratic theory. Specifically, it argues that Chau’s proposal is not available within the context of the kind of political community upon which (Duff rightly believes) a system of liberal criminal law depends for its justification and maintenance: a community in which citizens see the law as embodying shared norms whose specific demands they disagree about. State officials are morally permitted to see themselves as acting on behalf of a subset of the citizenry, I argue, only in circumstances of democratic crisis : circumstances in which a moral community can no longer be plausibly said to exist. (shrink)
In this book, David Boonin examines the problem of punishment, and particularly the problem of explaining why it is morally permissible for the state to treat those who break the law in ways that would be wrong to treat those who do not? Boonin argues that there is no satisfactory solution to this problem and that the practice of legal punishment should therefore be abolished. Providing a detailed account of the nature of punishment and the problems that (...) it generates, he offers a comprehensive and critical survey of the various solutions that have been offered to the problem and concludes by considering victim restitution as an alternative to punishment. Written in a clear and accessible style, The Problem of Punishment will be of interest to anyone looking for a critical introduction to the subject as well as to those already familiar with it. (shrink)
As recorded in the Analects, Kongzi (Confucius) held that using punishment to influence ordinary citizens will do little to develop a sense of shame (chi 恥) in them. This term is usually taken to refer to a sense of shame described here as “ autonomous,” understood as a predisposition to feel ashamed when one does something wrong because it seems wrong to oneself, and not because others regard it as wrong or shameful. Historically, Confucian philosophers have thought a great (...) deal about the habits and character traits necessary for someone to have a sense of shame that is truly autonomous. The article looks at their views on this matter and shows how they help to articulate the hypothesis that coercive punishments undermine or work at cross-purposes with the cultivation of an autonomous sense of shame. It then uses this analysis to explicate the proposal that governing people by cultivating a sense of shame is to be preferred to governing by threat of punishment. It concludes by weighing its merits as a view about effective governance, observing that its strength and plausibility depends on whether we take the threat of punishment to be direct or indirect. (shrink)
In this paper we explore the relationship between forgiving and punishment. We set out a number of arguments for the claim that if one forgives a wrongdoer, one should not punish her. We then argue that none of these arguments is persuasive. We conclude by reflecting on the possibility of institutional forgiveness in the criminal justice setting and on the differences between forgiveness and acts of mercy.
This book is the first comprehensive study of the meaning and measure of enforceability. While we have long debated what restraints should govern the conduct of our social life, we have paid relatively little attention to the question of what it means to make a restraint enforceable. Focusing on the enforceability of legal rights but also addressing the enforceability of moral rights and social conventions, Mark Reiff explains how we use punishment and compensation to make restraints operative in the (...) world. After describing the various means by which restraints may be enforced, Reiff explains how the sufficiency of enforcement can be measured, and he presents a unified theory of deterrence, retribution, and compensation that shows how these aspects of enforceability are interconnected. Reiff then applies his theory of enforceability to illuminate a variety of real-world problem situations. (shrink)
Negligence is a problematic basis for being morally blamed and punished for having caused some harm, because in such cases there is no choice to cause or allow—or risk causing or allowing—such harm to occur. The standard theories as to why inadvertent risk creation can be blameworthy despite the lack of culpable choice are that in such cases there is blame for: (1) an unexercised capacity to have adverted to the risk; (2) a defect in character explaining why one did (...) not advert to the risk; (3) culpably acquiring or failing to rid oneself of these defects of character at some earlier time; (4) flawed use of those practical reasoning capacities that make one the person one is; or (5) chosen violation of per se rules about known precautions. Although each of these five theories can justify blame in some cases of negligence, none can justify blame in all cases intuitively thought to be cases of negligence, nor can any of these five theories show why inadvertent creation of an unreasonable risk, pure and simple, can be blameworthy. (shrink)
Female genital alteration is any cutting, removal or destruction of any part of the external female genitalia. Various FGA practices are common throughout the world. While most frequent in Africa and Asia, transglobal migration has brought ritual FGA to Western nations. All forms of FGA are generally considered undesirable for medical and ethical reasons when performed on minors. One ritual FGA procedure is the vulvar nick. This is a small laceration to the vulva that does not cause morphological changes. Besides (...) being performed as a primary ritual procedure it has been proposed as a substitute for more extensive forms of FGA. Measures advocated or taken to reduce the burden of FGA can be punitive or non-punitive. Even if it is unethical to perform VN, we argue that it also is unethical to attempt to suppress it through punishment. First, punishment of VN is likely to cause more harm than good overall, even to those ostensibly being protected. Second, punishment is likely to exceed legitimate retributive ends. We do not argue in favor of performing VN. Rather, we argue that non-punitive strategies such as education and harm reduction should be employed. (shrink)
The proposal that the criminal justice system should focus on rehabilitation – rather than retribution, deterrence, or expressive denunciation – is among the least popular ideas in legal philosophy. Foremost among rehabilitation’s alleged weaknesses is that it views criminals as blameless patients to be treated, rather than culpable moral agents to be held accountable. This article offers a new interpretation of the rehabilitative approach that is immune to this objection and that furnishes the moral foundation that this approach has lacked. (...) The view rests on the principle that moral agents owe it to one another to maintain the dependability of their moral capacities. Agents who culpably commit criminal wrongs, however, betray an unacceptable degree of moral unreliability. Punishment, on this theory, consists in the enforcement of the duties that offenders have to reduce their own likelihood of recidivism. (shrink)
Why is American punishment so cruel? While in continental Europe great efforts are made to guarantee that prisoners are treated humanely, in America sentences have gotten longer and rehabilitation programs have fallen by the wayside. Western Europe attempts to prepare its criminals for life after prison, whereas many American prisons today leave their inhabitants reduced and debased. In the last quarter of a century, Europe has worked to ensure that the baser human inclination toward vengeance is not reflected by (...) state policy, yet America has shown a systemic drive toward ever increasing levels of harshness in its criminal policies. Why is America so short on mercy? In this deeply researched, comparative work, James Q. Whitman reaches back to the 17th and 18th centuries to trace how and why American and European practices came to diverge. Eschewing the usual historical imprisonment narratives, Whitman focuses instead on intriguing differences in the development of punishment in the age of Western democracy. European traditions of social hierarchy and state power, so consciously rejected by the American colonies, nevertheless supported a more merciful and dignified treatment of offenders. The hierarchical class system on the continent kept alive a tradition of less-degrading "high-status" punishments that eventually became applied across the board in Europe. The distinctly American, draconian regime, on the other hand, grows, Whitman argues, out of America's longstanding distrust of state power and its peculiar, broad-brush sense of egalitarianism. Low-status punishments were evenly meted out to all offenders, regardless of class or standing. America's unrelentingly harsh treatment of trangressors--this "equal opportunity degradation"-- is, in a very real sense, the dark side of the nation's much vaunted individualism. A sobering look at the growing rift between the United States and Europe, Harsh Justice exposes the deep cultural roots of America's degrading punishment practices. (shrink)
The fair-play theory of punishment claims that the state is justified in imposing additional burdens on law-breakers, to remove the unfair advantage the latter have enjoyed by disobeying the law. From this perspective, punishment reestablishes a fair distribution of benefits and burdens among all citizens. In this paper, I object to this view by focusing on the case of civil disobedience. I argue that the mere illegality of this conduct is insufficient to establish the agent’s unfair advantage over (...) his lawabiding fellows, hence the imposition of additional burdens upon him through legal punishment. I articulate a broader account of citizens’ fair-play duties, able to capture disobedience as well as obedience to the law. While claiming that some law-breakers may not be treated as free-riders, I also gesture at the fact that some law-obeying citizens may not be ‘playing fair’: in some cases, a failure to engage in civil disobedience represents a failure to do one’s own part within the cooperative scheme of society. (shrink)
This paper objects to certain forms of punishments, such as supermax confinement, on grounds that they are inappropriately contemptuous. Building on discussions in Kant and elsewhere, I flesh out what I take to be salient features of contempt, features that make contempt especially troubling as a form of moral regard and treatment. As problematic as contempt may be in the interpersonal context, I contend that it is especially troubling when a person is treated contemptuously by her political community’s institutions -- (...) such as by certain forms of punishment. Punishment is contemptuous if it fails to respect offenders as moral persons, who as such are always capable of moral reform. Respect for offenders therefore requires, at least, that punishment not tend to undermine the prospect of offenders’ reform. I flesh out this constraint by considering various ways in which punishments may tend to undermine offenders’ reform. In particular, I discuss ways in which supermax confinement tends to violate the reform-based constraint. Finally, I address several potential objections to my account. (shrink)
In the past decade, experiments on altruistic punishment have played a central role in the study of the evolution of cooperation. By showing that people are ready to incur a cost to punish cheaters and that punishment help to stabilise cooperation, these experiments have greatly contributed to the rise of group selection theory. However, despite its experimental robustness, it is not clear whether altruistic punishment really exists. Here, I review the anthropological literature and show that hunter-gatherers rarely (...) punish cheaters. Instead, they avoid dealing with them and switch to other partners. I suggest that these data are better explained by individual selection, and in particular by partner choice models, in which individuals are in competition to be recruited by cooperative partners. I discuss two apparent problems for partner choice theories: large-scale cooperation and punishments in economic games. I suggest that rather than favouring group selection theory, these two phenomena provide evidence in favour of individual selection: (1) people produce large-scale cooperation through institutions in which punishment is not altruistic but rewarded on an individual basis; (2) punishment in experimental games can be explained without altruism and is indeed often better explained by individual interests. (shrink)
This book addresses the retributive and "orthodox subjectivist" theories that dominate criminal justice theory alongside recent "revisionist" and "postmodern" approaches. Norrie argues that all these approaches, together with their faults and contradictions, stem from their orientation to themes in Kantian moral philosophy. He explores an alternative relational or dialectical approach; examines the work of Ashworth, Duff, Fletcher, Moore, Smith, and Williams; and considers key doctrinal issues.
Recent research in moral psychology has attempted to characterize patterns of moral judgments of actions in terms of the causal and intentional properties of those actions. The present study directly compares the roles of consequence, causation, belief and desire in determining moral judgments. Judgments of the wrongness or permissibility of action were found to rely principally on the mental states of an agent, while judgments of blame and punishment are found to rely jointly on mental states and the causal (...) connection of an agent to a harmful consequence. Also, selectively for judgments of punishment and blame, people who attempt but fail to cause harm more are judged more leniently if the harm occurs by independent means than if the harm does not occur at all. An account of these phenomena is proposed that distinguishes two processes of moral judgment: one which begins with harmful consequences and seeks a causally responsible agent, and the other which begins with an action and analyzes the mental states responsible for that action. Ó 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Punitive behaviours are often assumed to be the result of an instinct for punishment. This instinct would have evolved to punish wrongdoers and it would be the evidence that cooperation has evolved by group selection. Here, I propose an alternative theory according to which punishment is a not an adaptation and that there was no specific selective pressure to inflict costs on wrongdoers in the ancestral environment. In this theory, cooperation evolved through partner choice for mutual advantage. In (...) the ancestral environment, individuals were in competition to be recruited in cooperative ventures and it was vital to share the benefits of cooperation in a mutually advantageous manner. If individuals took a bigger share of the benefits, their partners would leave them for more interesting partners. If they took a smaller share, they would be exploited by their partners who would receive more than what they had contributed to produce. This competition led to the selection of a sense of fairness, a cognitive adaptation aiming to share equally the benefits of cooperation in order to attract partners. In this theory, punishment is not necessary for the evolution of cooperation. Punitive behaviours are only a way to restore fairness by compensating the victim or penalizing the culprit. Drawing on behavioural economics, legal anthropology, and cognitive psychology, I show that empirical data fit better with this framework than with the theory of group selection. When people punish, they do so to restore fairness rather than to help the group. (shrink)
In philosophical writings, the practice of punishment standardly features as a terrain over which comprehensive moral theories—in the main, versions of ‘consequentialism’ and ‘deontology’—have fought a prolonged and inconclusive battle. The grip of this top-down model of the relationship between philosophical theory and punitive practice is so tenacious that even the most seemingly innocent concern with the ‘consequences’ of punishment is often read, if not as an endorsement of consequentialism, then at least as the registering of a consequentialist (...) point. But to suppose that repentance or crime prevention, for example, are goods that punishment characteristically aims to secure is hardly to endorse the maximization of some value or set of values as the fundamental criterion of moral rightness. Equally, an appeal to desert or rights in the justification of punishment does not commit one to the deontological claim that these norms have a basis independent of human interests. This suggests that the prevalence of the top-down model may owe more to the inertia of established usage, or the temptations of over-intellectualization, than one might initially have supposed. (shrink)
Humans have a strong sense of who should be punished, when, and how. Many features of these intuitions are consistent with a simple adaptive model: Punishment evolved as a mechanism to teach social partners how to behave in future interactions. Yet, it is clear that punishment as practiced in modern contexts transcends any biologically evolved mechanism; it also depends on cultural institutions including the criminal justice system and many smaller analogs in churches, corporations, clubs, classrooms, and so on. (...) These institutions can be thought of as a kind of ‘exaptation’: a culturally evolved set of norms that exploits biologically evolved intuitions about when punishment is deserved in order to achieve cooperative benefits for social groups. (shrink)
Understanding cooperation and punishment in small-scale societies is crucial for explaining the origins of human cooperation. We studied warfare among the Turkana, a politically uncentralized, egalitarian, nomadic pastoral society in East Africa. Based on a representative sample of 88 recent raids, we show that the Turkana sustain costly cooperation in combat at a remarkably large scale, at least in part, through punishment of free-riders. Raiding parties comprised several hundred warriors and participants are not kin or day-to-day interactants. Warriors (...) incur substantial risk of death and produce collective beneﬁts. Cowardice and desertions occur. (shrink)
A number of philosophers and legal scholars have pointed out a fact about punishment that had not been sufficiently appreciated by many traditional accounts, utilitarian, retributive, or ‘mixed’: that evil inflicted on the person punished is not an evil simpliciter , but rather the expression of an important social message—that punishment is a kind of language. The message which it is seen to communicate can broadly be described as condemnation by society of the crime committed. In what is (...) still the only attempt at a general and critical discussion— Anthony Skillen's ‘How to say Things with Walls’—this way of understanding punishment is termed ‘expressionism’. In this paper I propose to sort out the main varieties of expressionism in the philosophy of punishment, and to discuss some of their pros and cons. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 71 - 105 Grotius’s theory of punishment provides a unique lens through which to view his evolving thought on sovereignty between _De Indis_ and _De iure belli ac pacis_ and the implications of that evolution for Grotius’s theory of the ius in bello. Throughout both works, Grotius attempted to leave open the possibility of private punishment and private warfare, a position not easily squared with prevailing views of sovereign authority. Initially, Grotius (...) was content with a theory marrying the private right of punishment with more traditional Scholastic views of sovereignty through a transfer of the private right from individuals into the hands of the sovereign. This theory also adopted traditional views of subject responsibility for sovereign acts—and, by extension, the exposure of subjects to punishment for the acts of their sovereign. By the time of his mature work, however, Grotius turned away from natural law justifications for collective responsibility and collective punishment, denying that subjects had to answer for the acts of their sovereign as a necessary incident of the compact creating civil society. This led Grotius to refer virtually all forms of collective responsibility, such as reprisal or punishment exacted through war, to the law of nations. This sharp reduction of the natural consequences of the creation of sovereign power also enabled Grotius’s argument that the private right of war, and in particular the private right of punishment, remained available after the creation of civil society. (shrink)
When any man, even in political society, renders himself by his crimes obnoxious to the public, he is punished by the laws in his goods and person; that is, the ordinary rules of justice are, with regard to him, suspended for a moment, and it becomes equitable to inflict on him, for the benefit of society, what otherwise he could not suffer without wrong or injury?
In _The Immorality of Punishment_ Michael Zimmerman argues forcefully that not only our current practice but indeed any practice of legal punishment is deeply morally repugnant, no matter how vile the behaviour that is its target. Despite the fact that it may be difficult to imagine a state functioning at all, let alone well, without having recourse to punishing those who break its laws, Zimmerman makes a timely and compelling case for the view that we must seek and put (...) into practice alternative means of preventing crime and promoting social stability. (shrink)