Social Philosophy and Policy 12 (2):220-240 (1995)

It is extraordinary, when one thinks about it, how little attention has been paid by theorists of the nature and justification of punishment to the idea that punishment is essentially a matter of self-defense. H. L. A. Hart, for example, in his famous “Prolegomenon to the Principles of Punishment,” is clearly committed to the view that, at bottom, there are just three directions in which a plausible theory of punishment can go: we can try to justify punishment on purely consequentialist grounds, which for Hart, I think, would be to try to construct a purely utilitarian justification of punishment; we can try to justify punishment on purely retributive grounds; or we can try to justify punishment on grounds that are some sort of shrewd combination of consequentialist and retributive considerations. Entirely absent from Hart's discussion is any consideration of the possibility that punishment might be neither a matter of maximizing the good, nor of exacting retribution for a wrongful act, nor of some imaginative combination of these things, but, rather, of something altogether different from either of them: namely, the exercise of a fundamental right of self-protection. Similarly, but much more recently, R. A. Duff, despite the fact that he himself introduces and defends an extremely interesting fourth possibility, begins his discussion by writing as though, apart from his contribution, there are available to us essentially just the options previously sketched by Hart. Again, there is no mention here, any more than in Hart's or any number of other recent discussions, of the possibility that we might be able to justify the institution of punishment on grounds that are indeed forward-looking, to use Hart's famous term, but that are not at all consequentialist in any ordinary sense of the word.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0265052500004738
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,114
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Trials and Punishments.John Cottingham & R. A. Duff - 1987 - Philosophical Quarterly 37 (149):448.
The Right to Threaten and the Right to Punish.Warren Quinn - 1985 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (4):327-373.
Punishment.J. D. Mabbott - 1939 - Mind 48 (190):152-167.
The Justification of General Deterrence.Daniel M. Farrell - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (3):367-394.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Deterrence Theory of Punishment.Anthony Ellis - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (212):337–351.
Fortifying the Self-Defense Justification of Punishment.Cogley Zac - forthcoming - Public Affairs Quarterly 31 (4).

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Punishment: Consequentialism.David Wood - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (6):455-469.
Punishment as Penalty.Suzanne Uniacke - 2015 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (1):37-47.
Making Sense of Retributivism.J. Angelo Corlett - 2001 - Philosophy 76 (1):77-110.
On Retribution.C. H. Whiteley - 1956 - Philosophy 31 (117):154 - 157.
Answers.Victor Tadros - 2015 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (1):73-102.
Misguided Retribution: The Criminalization of Pregnant Women Who Take Drugs.Vicki Toscano - 2002 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
Kant's Theory of Punishment.Thom Brooks - 2003 - Utilitas 15 (2):206.


Added to PP index

Total views
61 ( #185,352 of 2,499,071 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,823 of 2,499,071 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes