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Realism, Punishment & Reform


Paul H. Robinson


University of Pennsylvania Law School

Robert Kurzban


University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

Owen D. Jones


Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences

April 15, 2010

Chicago Law Review, Vol. 77, p. 1611, 2010
U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-18
Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 10-19

Abstract:     
Professors Donald Braman, Dan Kahan, and David Hoffman, in their article "Some Realism About Punishment Naturalism," to be published in an upcoming issue of the University of Chicago Law Review, critique a series of our articles: Concordance and Conflict in Intuitions of Justice (http://ssrn.com/abstract=932067), The Origins of Shared Intuitions of Justice (http://ssrn.com/abstract=952726), and Intuitions of Justice: Implications for Criminal Law and Justice Policy (http://ssrn.com/abstract=976026). Our reply, here, follows their article in that coming issue.

As we demonstrate, they have misunderstood our views on, and thus the implications of, widespread agreement about punishing the "core" of wrongdoing. Although much of their attack is therefore misplaced, important disagreements may remain concerning: whether there is a meaningful difference between core and non-core cases; whether judgments about core cases are less malleable than judgments about non-core cases; and whether imposing punishments perceived to be unjust imposes, in turn, significant costs on the criminal justice system. Which of the disputed views is correct can have important implications for the administration of criminal justice. Far from being anti-reformists, as accused, we argue that Reform Realism is the most effective path to bringing about needed reforms.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: Criminal law, core of wrongdoing, intuitions of justice, social reform, significance of resulting harm, agreement and disagreement about judgments of justice, judging relative blameworthiness, violence, theft, reform realism

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Date posted: April 16, 2010 ; Last revised: February 22, 2011

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H. and Kurzban, Robert and Jones, Owen D., Realism, Punishment & Reform (April 15, 2010). Chicago Law Review, Vol. 77, p. 1611, 2010; U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-18; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 10-19. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1590463

Contact Information

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
Robert Kurzban
University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology ( email )
3720 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196
United States
Owen D. Jones
Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences ( email )
131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
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