Questioning Retribution, Valuing Humility
18 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2013 Last revised: 9 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 1, 2013
This essay reviews a recent book by Jeffrie Murphy: Punishment and the Moral Emotions: Essays in Law, Morality and Religion. The essay considers the intellectual evolution of Murphy, a leading Kantian legal philosopher and retributivist into one who raises hard questions about retribution as currently used in U.S. criminal justice. The moral emotions of retribution are considered along with the possible relevance of forgiveness, remorse and apology to just punishment. Also covered are the need for humility in punishment decisions and the possibility that Christian values might check the excesses of retributive passions. The essay closes with observations on similar themes drawn from the reviewer's work as a jail chaplain.
Keywords: retribution, emotion, punishment, remorse, apology, humility, Christian religion
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