Closet Retributivism

Michael Moore

in Placing Blame

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599493
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594649 | DOI:
Closet Retributivism

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This chapter has two aims. First, it seeks to develop an adequate taxonomy of possible (and historically advocated) theories of punishment. Utilitarian, retributive, rehabilitative, and mixed theories are distinguished, with subspecies of each.. Second, the chapter presents a set of thought experiments making it difficult to hold the utilitarian, rehabilitative, or mixed theories of punishment. That leaves retributivist theories as the preferred basis for punishment, assuming we are to punish at all. The aim of the chapter is not so much to justify retributivism as to show that each of us is, intuitively at least, a retributivist – a ‘closet retributivist’, perhaps, but a retributivist nonetheless.

Keywords: retributivism; utilitarianism; deterrence; reform; mixed theories; rehabilitation; punishment

Chapter.  8820 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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