Retributivism, Free Will, and the Public Health-Quarantine Model

In Matthew C. Altman (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook on the Philosophy of Punishment. Palgrave-Macmillan (2022)
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This chapter outlines six distinct reasons for rejecting retributivism, not the least of which is that it’s unclear that agents possess the kind of free will and moral responsibility needed to justify it. It then sketches a novel non-retributive alternative called the public health-quarantine model. The core idea of the model is that the right to harm in self-defense and defense of others justifies incapacitating the criminally dangerous with the minimum harm required for adequate protection. The model also draws on the public health framework and prioritizes prevention and social justice. It is argued that not only does the public health-quarantine model offer a stark contrast to retributivism, it also provides a more humane, holistic, and effective approach to dealing with criminal behavior, one that is superior to both retributivism and other leading non-retributive alternatives.

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Gregg D. Caruso
Corning Community College


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