Res Philosophica 97 (2):169-183 (2020)

Authors
Erin Kelly
University of Washington
Abstract
The punitive, moralizing conception of individual responsibility commonly associated with retributive justice exaggerates the moral meaning of criminal guilt. Criminal guilt does not imply moral desert, nor does it justify moral blame. Mental illness, intellectual disability, addiction, immaturity, poverty, and racial oppression are factors that mitigate our sense of a wrongdoer’s moral desert, though they are mostly not treated by the criminal justice system as relevant to criminal culpability. The retributive theory also distracts from shared responsibility for social injustice. Instead of highlighting the moral urgency of correcting conditions that help to explain the crime rate, a commitment to retribution diverts attention from the social conditions that engender crime. These conditions include an unequal distribution of social, economic, and political power, which poses a serious problem for the retributive theory. When disadvantaged members of society act in ways that violate the criminal law, they are less morally blameworthy, even when the laws they violate are justified. Judgments of blame and desert, in relation to criminal justice, vary in accordance with political status. The diminished political power of oppressed groups is at odds with a retributive justification of punishment.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.11612/resphil.1900
Options
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: 71,316
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Religion within the Limits of Reason alone.Immanuel Kant & Theodore M. Greene - 1936 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 43 (1):11-12.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Review Essay / Rethinking Criminal Law.Anthony D. Woozley - 1982 - Criminal Justice Ethics 1 (1):41-47.
Review Essay / Dominion as the Target of Criminal Justice.C. L. ten - 1991 - Criminal Justice Ethics 10 (2):40-46.
Desert and Fairness in Criminal Justice.Erin I. Kelly - 2012 - Philosophical Topics 40 (1):63-77.
Review Essay / A Theory of Criminal Justice.Barbara Baum Levenbook - 1982 - Criminal Justice Ethics 1 (2):60-64.
Finding Space for Criminal Prosecutions Post‐Conflict.Jovana Davidovic - 2016 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 33 (1):53-68.
Rethinking Adultery.Michael Vitiello - 2017 - Criminal Justice Ethics 36 (3):314-326.
Criminal Justice and the Liberal Polity.Jonathan Jacobs - 2011 - Criminal Justice Ethics 30 (2):173-191.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2020-05-16

Total views
21 ( #537,260 of 2,519,507 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #116,789 of 2,519,507 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes