Responsibility, Restoration, and Retribution

R. A. Duff

in Retributivism Has a Past

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199798278
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919376 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Penal Theory and Philosophy

Responsibility, Restoration, and Retribution

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Retributivism, the idea that what justifies criminal punishment is that it is deserved for past criminal wrongdoing, famously (or notoriously) underwent a revival in the 1970s—a revival whose influence is still evident both in penal philosophy and in penal policy. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now more clearly identify a number of problems with that revival: what we must then ask is whether those problems are fatal. Can a robust version of retributivism be rendered plausible in our contemporary penal and philosophical climate, or is it time to move on beyond retributivism to some quite different kind of penal philosophy? This chapter argues that penal philosophy and policy should retain a central place for a suitably understood idea of retribution. This argument involves paying closer attention than penal theorists often pay to the criminal process that precedes punishment and to the conception of responsible citizenship that should structure such a process. It also involves showing how a practice of appropriately retributive punishments can meet some of the main concerns of advocates of “restorative justice” by providing a better account than they often provide of what needs to be restored in the aftermath of crime, and how it can be restored. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of the problems that impaired the retributivist revival.

Keywords: retributivism; penal philosophy; penal policy; retributive punishments; retributivist revival

Chapter.  13641 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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