Wrongdoing, Desert, and Punishment

Thomas E. Hill

in Human Welfare and Moral Worth

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252633
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597695 | DOI:
Wrongdoing, Desert, and Punishment

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Contrasts utilitarian, Kantian, and deep retributive views about the relations between wrongdoing and suffering because of one's wrongdoing. Kant maintains that, although wrongdoers are intrinsically liable to suffer self‐reproach and moral disapproval of others, wrongdoing does not entail “deserving to suffer” in a sense providing intrinsic practical reasons to inflict suffering. Arguably, even Kant's most infamous remarks on punishment fail to prove otherwise. Contrary to common impressions, Kant is best understood as holding a mixed theory in which the retributive policies that Kant endorses lack deep retributive justification. Some implications for the justice of current practices of punishment are explored.

Keywords: desert; justice; Kant; moral disapproval; punishment; retributive; self‐reproach; suffering; utilitarian; wrongdoing

Chapter.  14058 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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