What Might Retributive Justice Be?
RETRIBUTIVISM: ESSAYS ON THEORY AND POLICY, Mark D. White, ed., pp. 49-72, Oxford University Press, 2011
31 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2010 Last revised: 15 Jul 2011
Date Written: May 25, 2011
There are many conceptions of retributive justice. This paper is designed to articulate and defend a particular kind of retributive justice, one that I call the "Confrontational Conception of Retributivism," or the CCR. This particular conception is political, not comprehensive, and thus is interested in defending the claim that "state" punishment is, as a general matter, warranted as a response to criminal wrongdoing. Accordingly, the focus is on the legal manifestations of criminal punishment, particularly within a liberal democracy; it is not concerned with justifying punishment in other spheres such as parent-child relations. Related to this account of state punishment is that its contours should be devised principally ex ante and that such punishment should be distributed through actors upon whom there are checks with respect to their remaining discretion.
The paper here is a chapter in a volume published in 2011 from Oxford UP and the volume includes the essays of other scholars on the theories and policies associated with retributive justice. My paper in particular is an effort at restating, clarifying and correcting some of my prior work in retributive justice theory. It is, relatively speaking, reasonably short and might serve as a useful introduction for students and scholars wading into contemporary retributive justice theory.
Keywords: Punishment, Retributive Justice, Criminal Justice
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