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Punishment Calibration and Empirical Desert

Jonathan A. Watson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

August 23, 2008

Professor Paul Robinson's major focus for many years has been punishment theory. He (among others - principally John Darley, a social psychologist), has gradually developed a theory of punishment called empirical desert. Empirical desert is the idea that distributive theories of criminal liability and punishment must be based in the community's notion of justice if they are to have community respect, and thereby, effectiveness. Professor Adam Kolber also works in the area of punishment theory. His recent work, The Subjective Experience of Punishment, focuses on the idea that as all humans experience pain and suffering in different ways, punishments ought to be tailored accordingly, usually exemplified therein through variation on punishment locale or length.

Examining Prof. Kolber's work through the lens of empirical desert reveals potential problems which could arise for proponents of punishment theory. This paper discusses the two theories at length, outlines the problems which arise at their intersection, and suggests ways in which they might be reconciled.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: punishment calibration, utility, empirical desert, punishment theory

JEL Classification: K14

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Date posted: August 27, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Watson, Jonathan A., Punishment Calibration and Empirical Desert (August 23, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1249663 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1249663

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Jonathan A. Watson (Contact Author)
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
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