<i>Pro Tanto</i> Retributivism: Judgment and the Balance of Principles in Criminal Justice

Mark D. White

in Retributivism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199752232
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895342 | DOI:
Pro Tanto Retributivism: Judgment and the Balance of Principles in Criminal Justice

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This chapter suggests a way that deontological retributivists can accommodate the compromises to just punishment made necessary in the real world by scarce resources and competing societal needs and goals. The chapter considers consequentialist retributivism, in which trade-offs are allowed in order to maximize some measure of punishment or justice, but finds the quantification of just punishment problematic due to the ideal or principled nature of justice. Instead, it proposes a practical, deontological retributivism in which the principle of just punishment is balanced with other principles and goals according to a concept of judgment drawn from the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the jurisprudence of Ronald Dworkin. After outlining the resulting “pro tanto retributivism,” the chapter compares it to other suggestions regarding how to balance competing interests within punishment, including Michael S. Moore’s “threshold retributivism,” and argues that his conception is more flexible while adhering to a deontological understanding of retributivism.

Keywords: retributivism; punishment; justice; Immanuel Kant; Ronald Dworkin; pro tanto retributivism; threshold retributivism; judgment; principle; deontology

Chapter.  8264 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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