The fitting, the deserving, and the beautiful

Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (3):331-350 (2006)
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Punishment is punishment even if it is not (perceived by the punisher to be) deserved. But punishment which is not (perceived by the punisher to be) fitting is not punishment. This paper explores the differences between desert and fittingness, and argues that incorporating fittingness into thedefinition of punishment is not problematic, whereas incorporating desert in such definition is, in contrast, infamously problematic. The main difference between these two notions turns on the interesting differences between two types of normativity. Fittingness is exclusively concerned with aesthetic normativity, whereas desert is more directly concerned with moral normativity. When something is fitting, then it is, to an extent, intrinsically good, and, to an extent, it is also beautiful. The notion of fittingness has largely been ignored in discussions of punishment, yet it helps us better to understand the phenomenon of punishment, and in particular the thorny relationship between this phenomenon and desert. Key Words: beauty • desert • fittingness • normativity • punishment • retributivism.



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Leo Zaibert
Union College

Citations of this work

Moral Responsibility and Merit.Matt King - 2012 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 6 (2):1-18.
Two faces of desert.Matt King - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (3):401-424.

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References found in this work

The Concept of Desert.John Kleinig - 1971 - American Philosophical Quarterly 8 (1):71 - 78.

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