Kantianism, Consequentialism and Deterrence

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

Steven Sverdlik
Southern Methodist University
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
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: 65,579
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Giving Wrongdoers What They Deserve.Steven Sverdlik - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (4):385-399.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Facing the Consequences.Nathan Hanna - 2014 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 8 (3):589-604.
Kantian-Consequentialism.Darrell L. Johnson - 1992 - Dissertation, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Punishment as Penalty.Suzanne Uniacke - 2015 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 9 (1):37-47.
''Deterrent Punishment and Respect for Persons''.Zachary Hoskins - 2011 - Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 8 (2):369-384.
Punishment.Thom Brooks - 2012 - Routledge.
Punishment.Thom Brooks - 2010 - Oxford Bibliographies Online.
Punishment as Deterrence: Reply to Sprague.Anthony Ellis - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (218):98 - 101.


Added to PP index

Total views
58 ( #188,120 of 2,461,869 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #448,768 of 2,461,869 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes