The Retribution Heuristic
Koppel, S., & Fondacaro, M.R. (in press). The retribution heuristic. In J. Jacobs, & J. Jackson (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of criminal justice ethics. London, UK: Routledge, Forthcoming
15 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 8, 2015
Cognitive heuristics are mental shortcuts that enable quick and efficient decision-making. Several converging lines of evidence suggest the existence of a retribution heuristic, which guides reactions to wrongdoing toward retributive punishment. Although cognitive heuristics can generally be relied upon to produce sound decisions, they also are associated with cognitive biases and errors of judgment. We show that the retribution heuristic produces systematic errors of judgment, and argue that the resulting “Fundamental Retribution Errors” serve to legitimize overly harsh, unjust, and ineffective criminal sanctions.
Keywords: Heuristic, Retribution, Consequentialism, Criminal Justice, Neuroscience
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation