Marxism and Retribution
Jeffrie G. Murphy
Arizona State University College of Law
Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 2, p. 217, 1973
length about the moral problems involved in punishing the innocent and the obstacles these problems raise to an acceptance of the moral theory of utilitarianism. Yet, not much has been said about the moral problems raised to utilitarianism from punishing the guilty. Yet this is necessarily so for punishing an innocent man, in Kantian language, involves using that man as a mere means or instrument to some social good and is thus not treating him as an end in himself, in accordance with his dignity or worth as a person. The utilitarian theory really cannot capture the notion of persons having rights. Marx was correct when he said that retributivism, formulated as in this article, does respect the rights of persons and is the only morally defensible theory of punishment. This article concludes that retributive theory, in spite of the bad press that it has received, is a morally credible theory of punishment that can be a reasonable general justifying aim of punishment and that a Marxist analysis of a society can undercut the practical applicability of that theory.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Retributivism, Utilitarianism, Criminal Law
Date posted: September 9, 2009
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