The Moral Worth of Retribution

Michael Moore

in Placing Blame

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599493
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594649 | DOI:
The Moral Worth of Retribution

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This chapter argues for a kind of ‘equal protection’ for retributive justice amongst the kinds of justice. Other forms of justice – distributive, corrective, natural right, promissory – have respected places within our pantheon of plausible theories of legal institutions. The question put is why retributive justice has in modern times been so discriminated against. A variety of explanations are considered; the emotional nature of retributive judgments is ultimately singled out. That emotional nature is given extended treatment, along Nietzschean lines. Despite the conceded force of many of the Nietzschean objections to the emotional basis for retributive judgments, a virtuous emotional base for retributive judgments is argued to lie in feelings of guilt.

Keywords: punishment; revenge; retribution; resentment; emotions; guilt; moral hatred; ressentiment

Chapter.  20722 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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