Punishment - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Justification of Punishment

Retributivist Theories

The most thoroughgoing retributivists, exemplified by Immanuel Kant, maintain that the punishment of crime is right in itself, that it is fitting that the guilty should suffer, and that justice, or the moral order, requires the institution of punishment. This, however, is not to justify punishment but, rather, to deny that it needs any justification. To say that something is right or good in itself means that it does not need to be justified in terms of the value or rightness of anything else. Its intrinsic value is appreciated immediately or intuitively. But since at least some people do doubt that punishment is right, an appeal to intuition is necessarily unsatisfactory. Again, to say "it is fitting" or "justice demands" that the guilty should suffer is only to reaffirm that punishment is right, not to give grounds for thinking so.

Some retributivists, while admitting...

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This section contains 7,583 words
(approx. 26 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Punishment Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Punishment from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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