I outline and explain the philosophical problems relating to punishment, and the main normative approaches toward providing a justification for this social and legal practice.© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com October 1, 2020, 6:00 pm ad1c9bdddf
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THE CONCEPT OF PUNISHMENT
• Criminal law PROHIBITS certain sorts of actions
E.g.: murder, rape, assault, and burglary, fraud...
When a person has contravened these laws then he/she is liable for punishment.
• BUT: What the state DOES to criminals looks a lot like what they're being punishing for...(!)
Capital punishment deprives a person of his/her life
Incarceration involves taking away someone's freedom
Fining involves taking away some of the offender's money
"Punishment under law... is the authorized imposition of deprivations -- of freedom or privacy or other goods ... or the imposition of special burdens - because the person has been found guilty of some criminal violation" (Bedau 2003).
• Since punishment apparently involves doing all sorts of nasty things to people- which would not normally be permitted- it REQUIRES JUSTIFICATION.
• Two of the main aims of a normative theory of punishment are:
(1) EXPLAIN why punishment is justified
It is important to distinguish between,
(1) Justification of a particular act of punishment
(2) Justification of the institution of punishment
TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE, CONSIDER THESE TWO QUESTIONS:
Why is anyone punished?
Why is this person punished?
So, for instance, the INSTITUTION OF PUNISHMENT might very well be justified, even when a PARTICULAR ACT is NOT
(2) To provide the basis for assessing the appropriate measure of punishment...
E.g., WHAT MEASURE of punishment is fitting for a PARTICULAR crime?
-"An eye for an eye"?
TYPES OF THEORIES:
Normative theories of punishment ...
The expert examines the introduction to the theory of punishments. The social and legal practices are given.