More on the Comparative Nature of Desert: Can a Deserved Punishment Be Unjust?
Utilitas Journal Vol. 25 Issue 3
19 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2012 Last revised: 25 Jul 2019
Date Written: September 1, 2012
Adam and Eve have the same record yet receive different punishment. Adam receives the punishment that they both deserve, whereas Eve receives a more lenient punishment. In this paper, we explore whether a deserved-but-unequal punishment, such as what Adam receives, can be just. We do this by explicating the conceptions of retributive justice that underlie both sides of the debate. We argue that inequality in punishment is disturbing mainly because of the disrespect it often expresses towards the offender receiving the harsher treatment, and also because it casts doubt on whether Adam got what he deserved. We suggest that when no disrespect is involved and when it is clear that the criminal got what he deserved, inequality is not worrisome.
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