The Intrinsic Good of Justice

Ratio Juris 32 (2):193-209 (2019)
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Some retributivists claim that when we punish wrongdoers we achieve a good: justice. The paper argues that the idea of justice, though rhetorically freighted with positive value, contains only a small core of universally-agreed meaning; and its development in a variety of competing conceptions simply recapitulates, without resolving, debates within the theory of punishment. If, to break this deadlock, we stipulate an expressly retributivist conception of justice, then we should concede that punishment which is just may be morally wrong.

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Brian Rosebury
University of Central Lancashire


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