Injustice and the right to punish

Philosophy Compass 14 (2):e12565 (2019)
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Injustice can undermine the standing states have to blame criminal offenders, and this raises a difficulty for a range of punishment theories that depend on a state's moral authority. When a state lacks the moral authority that flows from political legitimacy, its right to punish criminal lawbreakers cannot depend on a systematic claim about the legitimacy of the law. Instead, an unjust state is permitted to punish only criminal acts whose wrongness is established directly by morality, and only when criminal guilt is established through legal procedures that meet minimal standards of fairness. These restrictions narrow the proper scope of criminal law and invalidate popular rationales for punishment that construe punishment as blame.

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Erin I. Kelly
Tufts University

Citations of this work

Standing to Punish the Disadvantaged.Benjamin S. Yost - 2023 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 17 (3):711-733.
Standing to Punish the Disadvantaged.Benjamin S. Yost - 2022 - Criminal Law and Philosophy (3):1-23.
Do Offenders Deserve Proportionate Punishments?Göran Duus-Otterström - 2021 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 15 (3):463-480.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Moral dimensions: permissibility, meaning, blame.Thomas Scanlon - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform.Tommie Shelby - 2016 - Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
The Expressive Function of Punishment.Joel Feinberg - 1965 - The Monist 49 (3):397-423.
Responsibility as Answerability.Angela M. Smith - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (2):99-126.

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