Free Will Skepticism and Criminals as Ends in Themselves

In Matthew C. Altman (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook on the Philosophy of Punishment. Palgrave-Macmillan (2022)
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This chapter offers non-retributive, broadly Kantian justifications of punishment and remorse which can be endorsed by free will skeptics. We lose our grip on some Kantian ideas if we become skeptical about free will, but we can preserve some important ones which can do valuable work for free will skeptics. The justification of punishment presented here has consequentialist features but is deontologically constrained by our duty to avoid using others as mere means. It draws on a modified Rawlsian original position in which we assume we are just as likely to be among the punished when the veil of ignorance is raised as we are to be among those protected by the institution of punishment. The justification of remorse presented here is care-based, and draws on the value of sympathizing with people we have wronged, which has a Kantian ground in the duty to take others’ ends as our own.

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Benjamin Vilhauer
City College of New York (CUNY)


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