David Dolinko

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Criminal Law

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195314854
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks



This chapter examines consequentialist theories, retributivism, and efforts either to combine features of both or to develop some entirely different approach. Punishment, it is said, can deter others from behaving as the criminal did (general deterrence), deter those punished from reoffending (special deterrence), alter the criminal's character or values so that he or she no longer wishes to commit crimes (rehabilitation), disable unreformed offenders from committing new crimes (incapacitation), and reinforce the societal norms the criminal has violated (normative validation). Whatever mechanism consequentialists endorse, they agree that the deliberate infliction of suffering involved in punishment is in itself an evil, justified only instrumentally by its good consequences. By contrast, retributive theorists regard punishment as an intrinsically good response to criminal behavior because it “annuls” the crime, or gives the criminal what he or she deserves.

Keywords: legal punishment; deterrence; retributive theorists; criminal behavior; consequentialist theories

Article.  18778 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »