Philosophical Studies 145 (3):325-349 (2009)

Authors
Nathan Hanna
Drexel University
Abstract
I argue that contemporary liberal theory cannot give a general justification for the institution or practice of punishment, i.e., a justification that would hold across a broad range of reasonably realistic conditions. I examine the general justifications offered by three prominent contemporary liberal theorists and show how their justifications fail in light of the possibility of an alternative to punishment. I argue that, because of their common commitments regarding the nature of justification, these theorists have decisive reasons to reject punishment in favor of a non-punitive alternative. I demonstrate the possibility of this alternative by means of a careful examination of the nature of punishment, isolating one essential characteristic—the aim to impose suffering—and showing how this characteristic need not guide enforcement. There is logical space for a forceful and coercive, yet non-punitive method of enforcement. This fact poses difficulties for many classical and contemporary justifications of punishment, but it poses particularly crippling problems for general liberal justifications.
Keywords Punishment  Justification  Liberalism  Liberal theory  Justice  Criminal justice  Crime  Abolitionism  Law  Legal theory  Restorative justice
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-008-9234-0
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Justice as Impartiality.Brian Barry - 1989 - Oxford University Press.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Must Punishment Be Intended to Cause Suffering?Bill Wringe - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (4):863-877.
The Nature of Punishment: Reply to Wringe.Nathan Hanna - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (5):969-976.
The Nature of Punishment Revisited: Reply to Wringe.Nathan Hanna - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (1):89-100.
The Passions of Punishment.Nathan Hanna - 2009 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 90 (2):232-250.
Perp Walks as Punishment.Bill Wringe - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3):615-629.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

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Can Punishment Morally Educate?Russ Shafer-Landau - 1991 - Law and Philosophy 10 (2):189 - 219.
A Kantian Critique of Kant's Theory of Punishment.Merle J.-C. - 2000 - Law and Philosophy 19 (3):311-338.

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