R. A. Duff

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Criminal Law

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This chapter discusses three kinds of cases in which it might be argued that a sentencer could show mercy to an offender, and seeks to explicate the logic of mercy as something distinct from retributive justice. In the first kind of case, mercy cannot be grounded in the aims or values of the criminal law itself; it is, rather, an intrusion into the criminal law, since there is a clear conflict between justice and mercy. In the second kind of case, mercy is also an intrusion into the logical structure of the criminal law, but is grounded in values from which that structure itself ultimately derives. In the third kind of case, mercy still conflicts with retributive justice, but can be justified in terms of the aims and values of the criminal justice system itself.

Keywords: compassion; retributive justice; criminal justice; mercy; criminal law

Article.  15018 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Law

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