Response Retributivism: Defending the Duty to Punish

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This paper offers a response retributive theory of punishment, taking the role of the punisher as well as the relations between the parties to punishment to be central to retributive justification. It proposes that punishment is justified in terms of the ethics of appropriate response, and more precisely, in terms of the duty agents have to dissociate from the devaluation inherent in the culpable wrongdoing of others. The paper demonstrates that on such account, while the harm and suffering involved in punishment are rightly imposed, they are not good, grounding a further duty to mitigate our retributive practices. The result is a moderate vision of retributive justification, which has the resources to justify, not only criminal punishment, but punishment as imposed across a wide variety of relations: private, institutional and political.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)585-615
Number of pages31
JournalLaw and Philosophy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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