Alan Brudner

in Punishment and Freedom

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199207251
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191705502 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice


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This chapter sets out and defends a version of retributivism that the book calls legal retributivism, and shows how it is untouched by the criticisms directed by consequentialists against moral retributivism — the view that punishment is justified as giving the wicked their just deserts. The chapter begins by setting out the basic features of the penal justice paradigm ordered to the protection of the agent's formal liberty to act on ends it chooses: the equal dignity of agents, the independence of wronging from harming, the absence of liability for failing to benefit, and the independence of culpability from evil. It then describes the conceptions of wrongdoing and of criminal wrongdoing belonging to this paradigm. It explicates the nonconsequentialist and nonmoral justification of punishment uniquely connected to this framework and defends this way of justifying punishment as the only one consistent with the inviolability of the person. Finally, it describes the limitations of the formalist paradigm to which legal retributivism belongs.

Keywords: public reason; punishment; wrong; culpable wrong; retributivism; formalism

Chapter.  19830 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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