The Evolution of Retribution: Intuitions Undermined

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (2):490-510 (2017)
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Abstract

Recent empirical work suggests that emotions are responsible for anti-consequentialist intuitions. For instance, anger places value on actions of revenge and retribution, value not derived from the consequences of these actions. As a result, it contributes to the development of retributive intuitions. I argue that if anger evolved to produce these retributive intuitions because of their biological consequences, then these intuitions are not a good indicator that punishment has value apart from its consequences. This severs the evidential connection between retributive intuitions and the retributive value of punishment. This argument may generalize to other deontological intuitions and theories.

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Isaac Wiegman
Texas State University

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