Rehabilitating Retributivism

Mitchell N. Berman

University of Pennsylvania Law School

July 19, 2012

U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 225

This review essay of Victor Tadros’s new book, “The Ends of Harm: The Moral Foundations of Criminal Law,” responds to Tadros’s energetic and sophisticated attacks on retributivist justifications for criminal punishment. I argue, in a nutshell, that those attacks fail. In defending retributivism, however, I also sketch original views on two questions that retributivism must address but that many or most retributivists have skated past. First, what do wrongdoers deserve — to suffer? to be punished? something else? Second, what does it mean for them to deserve it? That is, what is the normative force or significance of valid desert claims, either with respect to retributivist desert in particular or with respect to all forms of desert? Because the answers that this essay offers are preliminary, the essay also serves as a partial blueprint for further work by criminal law theorists with retributivist sympathies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: punishment, retributivism, desert

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: July 26, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Berman, Mitchell N., Rehabilitating Retributivism (July 19, 2012). U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 225. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2117619 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2117619

Contact Information

Mitchell N. Berman (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,105
Downloads: 305
Download Rank: 77,325