Retributivism revisited

Philosophical Studies 167 (2):473-484 (2014)
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Abstract
I’ll raise a problem for Retributivism, the view that legal punishment is justified on the basis of desert. I’ll focus primarily on Mitchell Berman’s recent defense of the view. He gives one of the most sophisticated and careful statements of it. And his argument is representative, so the problem I’ll raise for it will apply to other versions of Retributivism. His insights about justification also help to make the problem particularly obvious. I’ll also show how the problem extends to non-retributive justifications of punishment. I’ll argue that Berman’s argument makes a questionable assumption about the standard of justification that justifications of punishment must meet to be successful. If we think about what it takes to justify punishment and reflect on the intuitions that retributivists appeal to, it turns out that the intuitions aren’t obviously up to the task
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Archival date: 2021-03-22
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