By Whitley R.P. Kaufman
This booklet addresses the matter of justifying the establishment of felony punishment. It examines the “paradox of retribution”: the truth that we can't appear to reject the instinct that punishment is morally required, and but we can't (even after thousand years of philosophical debate) discover a morally valid foundation for causing damage on wrongdoers. The publication comes at a time whilst a brand new “abolitionist” move has arisen, a circulate that argues that we should always surrender the quest for justification and settle for that punishment is morally unjustifiable and will be discontinued instantly. This publication, even though, proposes a brand new method of the retributive concept of punishment, arguing that it's going to be understood in its conventional formula that has been lengthy forgotten or brushed aside: that punishment is largely a safeguard of the honour of the sufferer. correctly understood, this may supply us the potential for a sound ethical justification for the establishment of punishment.
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Additional info for Honor and Revenge: A Theory of Punishment
In contrast, making sense of the complex causal chain to assess the effectiveness of general deterrence is far more difficult (specific deterrence is something of an intermediate case). Here the punishment of one person must somehow be communicated to others and then cause them to choose not to commit crimes that they otherwise would have committed. This requires a fairly sophisticated ability to predict human behavior, as well as counterfactual knowledge of what people would have done had they not heard of this punishment.
It is more than a little odd, then, to see consequentialists reluctant to openly embrace the logical implications of their own theory, and it raises the question of whether even purported consequentialists are really consequentialists at heart. One of the rare cases where a consequentialist comes close to such an acknowledgment is found in the arch-consequentialist Peter Singer’s recent autobiographical essay (2009, 5–6). Singer relates McCloskey’s objection to consequentialism in the form of the following case: In a small town in the South of the United States, a black man has raped a white woman.
However, there is an even deeper objection to both of the above strategies. Both defend the consequentialist theory by arguing that it is contingently highly unlikely that we would ever be justified in punishing the innocent. This strategy is the straightforward basis of the first reply, but it is also assumed in the rule-utilitarian reply. That is, the assumption is that it is a matter of contingent fact that a long-term rule demanding that only the guilty be punished will likely produce more overall satisfaction.
Honor and Revenge: A Theory of Punishment by Whitley R.P. Kaufman