Event Detail

Mon Dec 13, 2010
Howison Library, 4:10–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Andy Engen (University of California, Berkeley)
The Reactive Sentiments and the Justification of Punishment

Traditional justifications of punishment, deterrence theory and retributivism, are subject to counterexamples that show that they do not explain why generally we have positive reason to punish those who commit serious crimes. Nor do traditional views sufficiently explain why criminals cannot reasonably object to punishment on the grounds that it deprives them of goods to which they are usually entitled. I propose an alternative justification of punishment, grounded in its blaming function. According to the “reactive theory,” punishment is justified because it expresses the appropriate indignation of the community. I argue that this blaming function provides a superior account of the positive reason to punish and of why serious criminals cannot reasonably object to their punishment.