The Offender's Part in the Dialogue

Kimberley Brownlee

in Crime, Punishment, and Responsibility

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592814
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729034 | DOI:
The Offender's Part in the Dialogue

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This chapter presents three objections to Antony Duff's claim that legitimate lawful punishment is a liberal state's effort to engage an offender in a moral dialogue about her conduct. The first objection is the Scripting Problem that punishment requires an offender to engage in the public ritual of apology and penance with its expected expressions of grief and remorse irrespective of her attitudes toward the judgement upon her. A forced response that is impervious to her attitudes not only fails to respect her as a person and a citizen, but also fails to satisfy the conditions for moral dialogue. The second objection is the more focused Generic Script Problem that certain offenders, such as fully repentant offenders and civil disobedients, should not want to follow the formal script assigned to offenders by the state, because they differ relevantly from unrepentant offenders in their attitudes and their reasoning about their acts. The third objection is the Status-Change Problem that the state's communication of condemnation to an offender is a performative act that alters the offender's legal status in a way that undermines the conditions for genuine moral dialogue.

Keywords: civil disobedience; communication; communicative theory; condemnation; legal status; moral dialogue; repentance; respect; punishment

Chapter.  7129 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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