Kantianism, Consequentialism and Deterrence

In Christian Seidel (ed.), Consequentialism: New Directions, New Problems? Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 237-57 (2019)

Authors
Steven Sverdlik
Southern Methodist University
Abstract
It is often argued that Kantian and consequentialist approaches to the philosophy of punishment differ on the question of whether using punishment to achieve deterrence is morally acceptable. I show that this is false: both theories judge it to be acceptable. Showing this requires attention to what the Formula of Humanity in Kant requires agents to do. If we use the correct interpretation of this formula we can also see that an anti-consequentialist moral principle used by Victor Tadros to criticize consequentialism is implausible. I go on to examine the version of John Rawls' theory that is used by Sharon Dolovich to develop a Kantian theory of legal punishment. This makes clear why punishment to achieve deterrence in the 'circumstances of justice' is morally acceptable. However, in at least one respect consequentialism gives us a more convincing understanding of the limits on the pursuit of deterrence than the Kantian theory does.
Keywords Kantianism  consequentialism  punishment  deterrence  Victor Tadros  Formula of Humanity  Categorical Imperative  Sharon Dolovich  John Rawls  circumstances of justice
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Giving Wrongdoers What They Deserve.Steven Sverdlik - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (4):385-399.

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