Hart's Philosophy of Punishment

John Finnis

in Human Rights and Common Good

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580071
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729393 | DOI:
Hart's Philosophy of Punishment

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This chapter reviews Hart's Essay on Punishment and Responsibility (1968) and underlines Hart's resistance to scepticism and reductivism in relation to the conceptions of human nature and of justice at stake in debates about punishment's justification. His critiques of John Austin's theory of action and Barbara Wootton's indifference to responsibility in relation to crime are exemplary. But his discussion of Plato overlooks Plato's fundamental concern for retributive justice, and Hart gives inadequate reasons for denying that retribution can be, not simply a limiting principle (as he proposes), but the general justifying aim of punishment.

Keywords: Hart; scepticism; retribution; responsibility; action; Plato; Wootton; John Austin

Chapter.  3565 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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