Retributivism and Outraged Love: A Search for the Heart of Retributive Justice


"An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind." This quote, often attributed to Gandhi, suggests the illegitimacy of the retributive urge. On the other hand, many feel a strong intuitive sense that "justice must be served" and that violators of justice must be fittingly punished. In this paper I examine the urge for retributive justice and argue that, at its base, it is rooted in a profound desire to have a wrongdoer see the nature of his or her wrongdoing, with the ultimate aim of inducing the repentance and reformation needed for a genuine healing of relationship. In this way, the urge for retributive justice may be seen as having, as its true end, the restoration of wholesome relations between wrongdoer and wronged.

Author's Profile

Richard Oxenberg
Emory University (PhD)


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