Social Theory and Practice 38 (4):598-616 (2012)

Authors
Nathan Hanna
Drexel University
Abstract
Some philosophers defend legal punishment by appealing to a natural right to punish wrongdoers, a right people would have in a state of nature. Many of these philosophers argue that legal punishment can be justified by transferring this right to the state. I’ll argue that such a right may not be transferrable to the state because such a right may not survive the transition out of anarchy. A compelling reason for the natural right claim – that in a state of nature there are few if any viable non-punitive enforcement options – isn’t obviously true in state contexts.
Keywords punishment  rights
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract201238433
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